Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 14, 2009

It was surprising to wake up and find snow on the ground! There wasn’t very much but there was snow. This morning our goal was to figure out how and when we are leaving. Today we were really excited to go to the baby house because we knew that two families were coming to pick up their boys who are in Nathaniel’s room.
Breakfast was very watery again this morning! Our morning seemed to fly by very quickly. We spent a majority of the time in the small room with the other family and their little boy. The two boys were crawling around for a bit. Nathaniel was a little fussy this morning and just wanted to be held. About halfway through our morning session we found out that we would not be visiting Irina’s baby house this morning during lunch. The director wasn’t going to be in today and she wants to see Irina. We will go tomorrow just after our morning session and just before court.

Irina likes to spend time with the two translators in another room at the baby house while we are playing with Nathaniel. We tell her that she has to spend time with us and Nate but she would rather be with the girls. They dote on her and she loves the attention. Before going this morning, we told her that she would not be going to play with the girls because she needed to spend time with her brother. (In her defense, he can’t really play with her.) About an hour through our time, one of the translators came in and asked if Irina could come with her. She returned soon after to ask if Irina had told us about their secret. We had no idea what she was talking about and she proceeded to tell us about the plan our little schemer came up with: She went to this translator and said that she wanted to come play with her but her mom said that she had to spend lots of time with her brother and was not allowed to ask the girls if she could come with them. So, she asked this translator to come to the room and ask if Irina could come visit with her for awhile. Furthermore, she told the translator not to wait until just before it was time to leave because then she would be stuck with us for too long. Everyone in the room was just shaking their heads, not believing that Irina cooked up this little plan and all agreed that we are in trouble with her. We are scared to imagine what the actual teenage years will involve if this is Irina at 4 years old!

After we ate lunch, we had to finish up some last minute shopping for gifts. When we were talking with the other couple this morning, they told us about red Russian gold, which is specific to this region. One of the translators has some Red Russian gold jewelry and it was a pretty color. After buying the items we needed, we had just enough time to go look at the jewelry. Kevin insisted on buying Laura some birthday jewelry: a necklace and earrings. They are really pretty. It was quite embarrassing because the earrings have a large safety clasp and got stuck in Laura’s ears when she tried them. It took 3 people to try to get them out.

When we got to the baby house for our afternoon session, the room was really busy. The returning families were there to visit with their boys for the afternoon and then were coming to pick them up just before their night flight tonight. It was great getting to see the families after we had gotten to know the boys. It was also neat to see that they knew who Nathaniel is and they asked us if he still had green spots (from the medicine they put on him). We shared some stories about their boys as well. All four boys played together for a bit after the adults socialized for awhile. Nathaniel was fussy again this afternoon and was sneezing and coughing a lot. He felt really warm so we took his temperature and sure enough, he has a little fever. Many of the babies in the room seem to have the same thing going on. It was great to talk to the other families today and hear that they had only been home from their trip for a few days when they found out when they could come back to pick up their kids. Hopefully it will be the same for us! There was a lot of commotion in the small room today and the afternoon was over before we knew it. We took some pictures of all four of the babies together and exchanged email addresses so that we can keep in touch. We were comparing stories about going to court and the two returning families said that the judge’s phones (landline and cell phone) were ringing during both of their court sessions as well. He ignored the calls during one family’s session and then when one mother was talking, he just answered the phone and started talking. Definitely different from in the US!

After our afternoon session, we went on a scavenger hunt for some KZ car stickers that Kevin wanted. He was unsuccessful but we did get to see a different part of Karaganda that is not so nice. We went to a restaurant we have been to before to connect to the Internet and try to figure out some travel plans and to get the phone number of our travel agent in the States. We have had drinks and bread and cheese there before but have never eaten dinner. It was getting to be dinner time so we decided to try it. It is just a 10 minute walk from our apartment and we were sad that we hadn’t eaten there before. The food was amazing! There is a restaurant just across from our building but it isn’t very good and we had no idea all this time that Mate had an English menu, otherwise we would have eaten there several times a week. We are definitely going there tomorrow as well. The Bookmans never mind eating out and because groceries are expensive here, eating out isn’t really that expensive.

After we got home, we packed because we didn’t know if we would be leaving after court tomorrow or on Thursday. Our travel agent is 12 hours behind us so we had to wait until quite late to figure out our travel plans. Supposedly it’s going to snow on Wednesday and Thursday but we are hoping it holds off until after we are on our way home. We have to stay until Thursday afternoon, then we’ll drive to Astana (2 hours in a car), catch a night flight to Almaty, take a 3:15 AM flight to Frankfurt, and then take a flight back to Brussels. We’ll finally arrive in Brussels on Friday morning. It is going to be a lot of traveling! We are eager to get home but at least we’ll get to have more time with Nathaniel and be sure that he is getting his medicine and feeling better. It seems that when we have arrived at the baby house after the other families have arrived, Nathaniel is a little fussy at first. It’s almost like he was starting to fuss because the other families were there and we weren’t. We have usually been the first family there each morning and afternoon so maybe he’s picked up on that and thinks we’re not coming. Just like with Irina, it’s going to be hard to leave him here for the 3 weeks or so between our trips. This evening we also packed his bag for when he is escorted to Almaty to meet us. It was exciting to pack his bags.

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