Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 8, 2009

We were picked up early today to go to the notary. We signed a bunch of papers to authorize something. We also had to go to a second notary this afternoon for other documents giving people power of attorney to act on our behalf. It was a crazy day. When we received all of Irina’s adoption documents four years ago, they used string to bind papers together rather than stapling them. Today it was the same thing-there was a spool of string and when papers had to be attached, they punched two holes on the side of the paper and used string to tie them together.
When we arrived today, Nate was in a walker which was connected to other walkers so he couldn’t go anywhere. He also had some extra food in his bowl. We suspect it being a bit of banana-pear sauce or something like that. From there, we put him in a walker to scoot around the play area. He didn’t really want to be in there long. Before we knew it, the Music Lady arrived. Of course all the kids were surrounding her. She had a few new songs and stuffed animals in her bag today. She of course sang the zeitchik or bunny song. She finished with a song about a goat. But her goat sound was more like a cat than a billy goat. But maybe the Kazakh goats make different noises. For the second time, she brought a little dancing bear that played “Love Potion Number 9.”

We had lunch at the Karaganda Café because the local computer whiz couldn’t get the laptop to load the drivers for our modem in our apartment. So if you’ve been wondering where we’ve been, we have been without our computer for a few days. We’ll be frequenting the KC and Maté for the next week or so to get free internet access. Kev’s not feeling normal yet (is he ever normal) so it was another lunch of bread and rice. A doctor from Irina’s baby house made a house call two nights ago and gave him some medicine (to quote the doctor: “You have an infection/stomach problem that you got here locally so you need to take local medicine, not medicine (Immodium which maybe worked too well) from America). He couldn’t get bubbly water so he settled for Diet Coke. Laura had something resembling chicken and rice and Irina had a “hot dog” and French fries. Our translator ate with us and had a pizza with tea.

Our afternoon session was great. We had to wait for the kids to get up as the care-givers let them sleep a little longer. Nate was in a great mood again. His lunch was runny again with rice and bread. He crushed his bottle which was liquid gelatin. We have come to expect a nice surprise in Nate’s diaper in the afternoon. We were very happy to find a nice recycled ball awaiting our disposal. No bath was necessary to clean out the nooks and crannies of Nate’s bum area. This afternoon we spent a little time in the walker but Nate seemed to be transfixed on one of the care-givers and kept scooting over to get her attention so we took him out of the walker to let her finish feeding and changing the kids. One of the kid’s mom’s came in today. We thought it was odd when she tried to feed her daughter a big chunk of cheese. But she was caught by the second care-giver and told to not feed the kid. The mom also had a bottle but we guess it was okay to bring in. One of the other boys in the room is being adopted by a local girl who can’t be more than 20 or so. Irina had to go to the bathroom and there is a bit of cultural difference we’ve learned (and forgotten) about here. In the toilet, there is only a pail of water rather than toilet paper (use your imagination if you want) and no toilet seat to sit down on. There is a sink with soap but no toilet paper. Interesting…..

Even more interesting was after we came out of a baby store near our apartment; these two girls walked by and kept stopping and giggling at us. Finally, they stopped and waited for us to catch up. In a mix of Kazakh, Russian and English, they tried to speak with us. We were able to ascertain they wanted to practice their English. We were happy to help them out. It became confusing when they asked us about where we are from and where we live. We found out they were on their way to English class, so we invited ourselves to go with them. The class is held in a German Center here in Karaganda. Their teacher works at a university here as an English instructor. She initially thought we were Peace Corps volunteers and was surprised to learn that two of her students found Americans to bring to their class. Apparently, the Peace Corps sends people to Karaganda to work in schools and universities teaching English and other things. But the Peace Corps haven’t sent anyone to replace the people who were here last. Natalya had promised them that she would try to find “some real Americans” for them to meet and was excited that two of her students found some for her. While we were in class, Irina got to play with Karina (5) who is the daughter of Natalya. That was a great time for Irina because all she’s had to play with is Kevin, Laura, and our translators. We had a chance to help the instructor, Natalya, explain some things or properly pronounce words. We had a great time being in the class and seeing the students embrace learning English. There was some confusion for them as we tried to explain we were there adopting a child. Natalya had to explain it a few times and when we told them Irina was from Karaganda, the students were very excited to hear we were there again to adopt.

Everyone who learns that Irina was born here in Karaganda is very proud of her and of the fact that she was born here. The students (the females) were very excited to see pictures of Nate. We told them his name was Arman and they all loved the name. Three of the four students in the class are Kazakh. We were invited back to their class on Friday. We are looking forward to spending more time with them. The teacher was initially worried that she was taking up our time but we explained that after our afternoon session at the baby house, we have nothing to do for the rest of the night so we were happy to stay. It was so nice to break our normal routine that we have been following for the last 2 plus weeks. The Bookmans are not usually ones to sit around the house by ourselves; we are used to having lots of company and being out and about. We are staying in the downtown area but are on our own after 4:00 and besides shopping at the same stores, there aren’t many ways for us to change our normal routine.

The students in the class are going to think of questions that have for Americans so we have no idea what to expect on Friday. One was asking for our phone number; it’s good that we don’t know our phone number because giving it out would certainly mean phone calls at all hours of the night from people wanting to practice their English. When we were here for Irina’s adoption, we heard that people would call apartments if they knew Americans were staying there just to practice their English and sure enough, we would get random phone calls at all hours. There is one Kazakh man here who seeks out Kevin each time Kevin takes a garbage bag to the dumpster. He wants to practice his English. This morning he was asking if Irina is from Russia and told us she is a beautiful Russian girl. It is somewhat funny to us that people here can tell she is Russian just by looking at her and we’ve had several people in the US do the same thing. We asked our translator about it today and she just replied that it’s because Irina looks very Russian.

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