Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday 31 Mar 09

Kev flew solo today as Laura stayed home with Irina who was still a little warm from whatever sickness she has. The plan was that Kev would go in the morning and Laura in the afternoon. However, Kev was informed that there would be a big inspection this afternoon and no parents were allowed to visit their kids. Kev didn’t really get to see Arman in the morning anyways because doctors and caregivers were coming to take him for various reasons. Arman received a nebulizer treatment and massage today. Kev tried to convince the woman to give him one but to no avail. Arman’s doctor came in to see him a couple of times but didn’t say what she was doing. Arman still has some difficulty breathing but you wouldn’t know it because he’s always happy and smiling.

Kev was met by smiles and giggles by Arman. Arman was still in his crib when Kev arrived (earlier than normal because he’s not waiting for Irina and Laura to get ready). From the moment Kev picked him up to the moment he laid him down, Arman was giggling, smiling, and cheerful. There were a few moments of fussing but nothing that wasn’t solved by tickling his belly or playing with him. Kev worked with Arman on sitting and standing. He’s doing well regarding sitting but wasn’t interested in standing at all today. Arman didn’t want to play with the toys we brought for him and instead insisted on playing with toys in the room. It wasn’t a big deal until he found a toy dumptruck with a soft dump part and tried to put his mouth on it. For the last few days, we’ve brought a frozen teething ring as his left front tooth is about to come through but he didn’t really want it. We also have another toy, which is nearly the same we brought for Irina and he likes it. But it’s good to see he wants to play with trucks and not Barbies.

As you’ll see by the images captured today, he was in a great mood and smiling every time Kev called his name. Kev returned home to find Irina feeling much better and a wife still in her pajamas. Nice! Irina was busy writing and illustrating a book about things that she likes (Barbies, playing games, chocolate ice-cream, and using good manners). Laura was busy cleaning our laundry (now that it works) and laying the clothes out to dry. In our current house in Belgium, we have an American washer and dryer. We had forgotten just how few clothes you can fit into a European washer and just how long (about 2 hours) it takes to wash a tiny load of clothes. We do not have a dryer so we must hang every sock and article of clothing out to dry, only to iron each piece after it is crispy, hard, and dry. What’s a drying rack cost? $10. $20. 20 euros. They are about $80 here. And yes, it’s still cheaper to eat out sometimes than to eat in. We have been eating a steady diet of blinis. They are pretty yummy. Not quite as good as Indian food or Megalithes (in Lens), but we are surviving. We discovered Kit Kat ice-cream in the grocery store yesterday, which is delicious. Hopefully we’ll eat at Mate (pronounced Ma-tay) one of these days. We had their cheese tray and Kazkh puffed pastry bread thingys (if they had chocolate and powdered sugar would be close to utopia) a few days ago.

The weather is absolutely beautiful today so after Irina’s beauty rest, we hope to spend some time outside. We were all feeling a little under the weather last night and we could all use some fresh air. This afternoon is the first time since we’ve been here that we are not boiling hot in our apartment.

More pix

Tuesday 30 Mar 09 PIX

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The washing machine was still not working. We later found out that a water pipe had to be turned on and it should be turned on today. We also solved another mystery in the apartment: the heat is on full blast and we haven't been able to find the thermostat to turn it off or even down. It is very hot in the apartment. There is central heating so the individual apartments don't have controls to adjust the temperature.

This morning Arman was in his walker when we arrived and was so happy to see us. After a good breakfast of porridge and stewed fruit juice, we played for awhile on the carpet. His feet don't really touch the floor so he couldn't really move around in the walkers. Today the music teacher came back and Arman watched her very intently. It is really fun to watch how animated the babies are when she is there.

Irina has a temperature so we are going to ask the doctors to look at her when we return to the baby house for our afternoon visit.

30 March 2009-part 2
What started out as a dreary, gloomy day turned out to be one of the nicest afternoons we’ve had. The morning was kind of a harbinger. This afternoon was absolutely beautiful with a few clouds but LOTS of SUN. Plus it was probably the warmest afternoon we’ve had since arriving. There was a nice gentle breeze to go along with the sun. A couple of cool things happened. We got our washing machine to work. Who knew that you need to turn the water on to use it? We actually got to upload some stuff at lunch time as seen on our blog. Unfortunately, Irina came down with something. She had a very high fever at lunch and into the afternoon. The walk up the 76 stairs didn’t help much and Laura ended up helping her donate to the porcelain bowl. You know something’s wrong with Irina when she won’t eat pizza or donuts. We’re pushing liquids and giving her some of the great, soft, round, delicious Kazakh bread we’ve missed the last four years. It’s the best stuff ever. If it would last the flight, we’d bring it home. Unfortunately, we’re lucky if it lasts 48 hours. And that’s if we don’t consume it immediately. Everything goes great with it. Honey, PB, butter, spaghetti sauce, spicy mustard – you name it. Just not all at once.

This morning Arman got a nebulizer treatment as well as a massage. It was interesting to watch the masseuse give him a massage. After a few minutes of massaging him, she went and got the diaper rash lotion we brought, smeared it on his chest, and then continued with his massage. She massaged his chest and back and then beat on his chest and back.

Arman was great this afternoon. Not a big surprise there. He gets a little fussy at the end of our time as he gets a little tired. We worked with him to sit up and stand. This will go a long way to developing his leg muscles which are not so developed for an 8 month old. Laura and I shared taking turns sitting with Irina and helping the doctor look after her. She slept for a bit during our afternoon session after the doc gave her some meds. After waking up, she was back to her normal self until we got home. Over the next few days, we have to take turns staying home with her so we’re splitting our sessions. One of us will spend time with Arman in the morning and the other in the afternoon. It’s too bad Irina isn’t feeling well because it would be great to go and walk around the city. Not that we can read anything but just to get out and see the city. The last time we were here, it was well below 0 every day. So we were forced to go from our apt to car to baby house and reverse the order. The exception was when we went to hockey games. And then we froze our asses off walking from the car to the arena.
For dinner tonight, we enjoyed some blini’s, corn that we used our 210 tenge opener to get AT the corn, and some Kazakh beer. The blini’s were great, especially with the spicy mustard. The corn, well, it wasn’t bad, after Kev spent what seemed like an eternity trying to “open” the can. The beer was actually good. Derbes is the name. A lot of American and Euro branded beer is here as well. Miller has some stuff called Midnight. You can get Stella Artois and Leffe in some restaurants. Efes is another beer we see advertised and in stores. We think it’s Dutch. There are a few “German” beers here. We’re not sure of the validity of them being GERMAN. Irina enjoyed some bread, tonsil spray, and Tylenol.


On Sundays, we only get to visit the baby house in the morning. Our morning visits are from 10-12:00 and then our afternoon visits are from 2:00-4:00. We usually go out to lunch during the break between the two visits. After our afternoon visit, we usually get dropped off at one of the malls and then walk home after exploring for awhile.

Arman spent a lot of time on his belly and loved rolling around. He was full of smiles, as always. Kev gave Arman a little tushy bath in the tub when we arrived. At least we know he is eating well! The time seemed to fly by and before we knew it, our time was over.

We were very excited when we got home and saw a new microwave. The night before, we were heating up our dinner and the microwave started sparking. We tried to use the oven but that didn't work. It was a little frustrating trying to make dinner without the microwave or oven. Kevin tried to cook our blinis (like blintzes) on the stove top and needless to say, dinner was quite interesting. It was nice to see that dinner would be easier to make!

After the excitement of using the new microwave, we attempted to do laundry because we are almost out of clothes. For some reason, the washing machine did not work. We went to sleep hoping that we would be able to do some laundry in the morning...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What day is it??

We woke up confused as to the day of the week. Each day here seems to run into the next. The only difference to our routine will be tomorrow when we're only able to see Arman in the morning.

Today was another beautiful day. None of the babies were out in the playroom when we arrived at the baby house this morning. It was great to be able to get him out of his crib. He was all smiles when he saw us. We had a great time with Arman as we fed him his morning meal and got to roll around with him. We had to share the room today with another family who's adopting a child. They're from Conneticut and are adopting the child who went crazy when the Music Lady came in. I mean crazy by he was the most active, cruising around the room and moving his body to the music.

Arman sounds much better today and wasn't breathing as hard as he was over the last few days. The doc on duty today came in and took his temperature and told us he no longer has a fever. He's still quite warm but not anything near as warm as previous days. Arman also received another shot at the end of our morning session. He didn't cry much which is good, especially since he'll get even more when we return to Belgium.

For the lunch break, we went back to the new city mall that we went to yesterday and had Baskin Robbins ice-cream for dessert. It was very yummy! We bought Arman some new teething toys. He has 2 bottom teeth, two teeth on the top right side, one on the left top side, but is missing one of the top middle teeth that babies usually get first. It is about to break through the gums so he is really teething.

He got some sort of liquid antibiotic in the afternoon and the doctor said that we could take him outside for 20 minutes. It was so nice to get some fresh air with him! He looked adorable in the snowsuit that had us put on him. He loved the new toys and was content to just play with them. He is eager to move around on his tummy and keeps rocking back and forth like he is going to crawl. He is very lovable and sweet and has been very easy to fall in love with. He is always full of smiles.

One thing that we continue having issues getting used to is the water. We remember how it smelled like rotten eggs due to the high sulfur content but it is just horrific. It is more pronounced in the warm water and it is hard to feel clean even after getting out of the shower. Irina has been doing a great job remembering not to put her toothbrush under the water and not to get it in her mouth at all. She has also been so helpful at the baby house to the caregivers, helping to line up the walkers and put the toys away when it is naptime. She also brings toys to the babies who are on the potties and start to fuss.

We came back to the same cafe as last night hoping to try some Kazakh beer as we connected to the Internet but they only had Belgian beer and Heineken. So, here in Kazakhstan, Kevin and I are drinking Leffe brune in the oversize Leffe glasses.

Why is it for men??

Interesting find that Laura discovered in the chocolate aisle.....

Who knew???

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 2

As you can see, we have a new addition. Thank you for being patient with us as we've had some technical issues getting on the 'net. We actually found a cool restaurant not too far from our apartment with a great wi-fi connection. Hopefully tonight, we won't have to go to anymore wi-fi spots but then again, the wi-fi is free and all we have to do is order a few drinks.

Arman seems to be feeling better today. We were told he has bronchitis. Not the greatest thing but we're hoping it clears up. You wouldn't know he was sick, other than green boogers and lots of congestions. He's a really happy kid who loves being held as much as laying down and playing with the toys we brought for him. He's mesmerized by a tag on the ball we brought him. Once he got his finger in it, he was content bouncing it off his head for a bit.

Here's the medical info we received from his doc: birthday is July 17, 2008 (4yrs and 6 days after Irina), his Apgar score was 8/9, he left the maternity hospital at 14 days to go to the baby house, he got his first tooth at 6 1/2 months, and he weighed a whopping 3kg900g at birth. We have no concerns at all. Hearing and sight seem to be pretty good. Muscular development in his legs needs to be improved like Irina. The doctors say he's quick to recognize people he's met before which we saw today as he immediately recognized our facilitator who hasn't seen him in a few days. And every day he sees us, he smiles and laughs.

The music teacher came to the room today and it was crazy. She comes every Mon/Wed/Fri. Many of the kids were so excited to hear the music. It was like a mini rock concert. She was singing and playing the piano. She took a stuffed cat out of her bag and went around to let all the kids in their walkers touch it before she sang the song about the cat. Then she sang other songs about things like drums, balls, and the zeitchik (which means rabbit). It was really funny and neat to hear her singing about the zeitchik (for those of you who don't know, that is Laura's maiden name). We're going to get her on video the next time she sings about it.

We bought some clothes for Arman that we thought would fit him (6-9 months) but they were too big. We're going to buy some smaller ones for him tonight or tomorrow. All of the babies wear little overall thingies (like pants with built-in suspenders that are connected). Only the babies that are being adopted wear diapers. When the babies are finished eating, they are immediately put into the two cribs in the playroom which have 4 little potties each. The babies are put on the potties and tied to the crib with a cloth. They don't seem to mind sitting there and it seems to be a very effective way of toilet training them. This is a common practice here. We haven't seen Arman on the pot yet.

Not sure if we already posted this, but Arman means "dream" in Kazakh, which we think is pretty neat. Off for our walk home...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's a boy

Well, after many hours in a plane and sleeping(not) in the Almaty airport, we're in Karaganda. We arrived in Karaganda at about 1030am on Wednesday. After dropping our things off to the apartment and doing some grocery shopping, we went to the baby house. We had to sit in a room with doctors anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new addition. We had no idea what to expect and then they brought in Arman. He has HUGE cheeks and a wonderful disposition. We only saw him for about 5 minutes (Wednesday) and then they returned him to his room so he could continue his nap. Even though he was kept from his nap to meet us, he was very content to be with us.

Thursday - When we woke up today, Irina was very excited to go meet Melvin. We had to explain that was not his name. In true Irina fashion, she began a couple minute dissertation as to why his name should be Melvin. She was excited to go see her little brother. She helped feed him this morning and this afternoon. She was intrigued about the process of changing a diaper. We brought a book for Arman and because Irina can read, she read him the book, "Who do you see?" He is very fascinated in Irina, like all the kids in his room. All the kids like to crowd around Irina in their walkers.

Arman has black hair, BIG brown eyes, and olive skin. He has a full head of hair and 5 teeth. Arman is 8 months old and is rolling around and wanting to crawl by getting up on his hands and knees and rocking. Arman seems very healthy with good fine motor skills. Arman has a great laugh, especially when the care-givers come to see him. Arman has a great appetite as well. Even though he has some congestion, he's eating like a champ. And much like Irina, even being sick he's in good spirits. Of course he is continuing the family tradition of throwing up only on Kevin. And today, Laura almost became part of that tradition as well......yes, puking on Kevin after watching Arman hurl his food all over his blanket. Laura rocked him to sleep this morning before we left for lunch. Something that Irina never did (we always wondered if she ever slept). There is a good chance he'll be verbalizing his desires because Irina is talking non-stop to him. He makes cute noises like he's attempting to say things. Like Irina, Arman seems to be a favorite amongst all the care-givers and doctors at the baby house. The people here are very nurturing and loving. We're going to talk to his doctor tomorrow to get the full medical information. We don't have any concerns with him and can't wait to bring him home.

Not much has changed here since we were here last. There seemed to be a good surge of money but we learned the Kaz Tenge dropped almost 25% a few months ago. The President of Kaz invoked more Kazakh lanuguage into businesses and advertisements. His idea is that everyone should know some of the Kazakh language. We continue to be lucky working with a great facilitator and translator. Please bear with us as we can't upload pictures because our camera isn't compatible with Vista and neither is the modem we have to use in the apartment. We've also tried to call back to the US with our cell phone but apparently that won't work either. Wi-fi is readily available at restaurants but it's slow and that's where we are now.

Our apartment complex is adjacent to the one we stayed in 4 years ago. When workers in the airport saw the Kaz passport Irina is using, they all smiled. Of course, because we have US passports, we didn't get a smile or anything overtly friendly. In the cafe we're using for FREE wi-fi, Irina didn't have a Dunkin' Donuts, she had a Domino' Donuts. Even the logo is the same. Off to try and connect in our apartment.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

We're Going....FINALLY!!!

So we're finalizing our trip. Tenative plans will put us on the ground in Kazakhstan in about a week. We're going to book our tickets and get visas early this week. Stay tuned for more details.......