Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

Oh no, not another beautiful sunny day in Karaganda. We can’t stand the sun. Please take us away. Kidding. It’s really beautiful weather. Kev wishes he had his bike and could ride in a protective bubble. No wonder why Team Astana trains in Teneriffe. All the drivers here are crazy. All the traffic lights were out today and it was mayhem. Our driver, while a nice guy, drives us to and from everywhere like we’re on a slalom course. His steering wheel is already not level and out of alignment, so what’s the big deal if you hit a few more pot holes? We didn’t have that issue with the driver who picked us up from the airport and drove us for the first few days.

Guess what? Nate was happy again today. Big shock, we know. He’s always smiling when we come to get him from his crib. Breakfast this morning included a bit of yogurt. Quite yummy but still a little too runny. The doctor came in this morning and told us we could go outside and we were very happy. We spent some time walking around the baby house and shared one of the playgrounds with a Spanish family that is here adopting a sibling set. When we went back in, we played for a bit on our blanket and then performed the cursory check for a soiled diaper. After we finished that, Kev entertained Nate with some odd sounds while flapping his arms like a bird. The remaining kids in the room who weren’t already down for a nap were entertained by Kev’s antics. Irina captured Nate’s laughs and giggles on video for those of you who wish to enjoy it at a later time.

Now that Kev’s intestinal track is functioning normally, we went back to a place we tried 4 years ago. We forgot they had an expansive menu and tons of yummy looking desserts. Laura had kooksi, Kev had a doner plate, Irina ate a “hot dog” and fries again, and our translator Julia had “chicken” and rice. The doner was good, the kooksi not so good, and Julia said her chicken was ok. Irina of course ate all her food. Oddly, a man came up to Kevin today and asked if Kev needed any help. He said he was from California. After some small talk, he asked Kev where he was from and upon hearing NY, the man said it was good to meet a fellow NY’er. Right. Oh well. We guess it’s hospitality…..To make up for bad kooksi, Laura had chocolate pudding which covered small éclairs. Laura was very pleased with dessert and probably would have been content just having two pudding dishes.

Prior to lunch we had to get some pictures printed for court so we stopped at a Kodak kiosk and had the folks print them. We returned after lunch to pick them up and we bought Nathaniel some outfits. When we came back to the baby house, Nate of course was smiling. Lunch was relatively yummy smelling. It appeared to be ground beef and potatoes. The chefs were busy that afternoon making pastries for the older kids; when we walked into the baby house, the aroma was magnificent. The kids will be eating well tonight. Or so we hope they will get some of the great smelling pastries. We were allowed to go outside this afternoon as well. It was absolutely beautiful. It was probably about 55 degrees with a slight breeze. One of the kids in Nate’s room is being adopted by a young local girl and she came by this afternoon with a friend to see the boy she’s adopting. They had a great time playing with the other kids and listening to the Americans oooh and aaah over their kids. They loved Irina and asked Irina to be in a picture with them. We finished off the afternoon with Nate, rolling around the floor with him and helping him stand. A week ago he could barely sit up at all and now he can pretty much sit up by himself.

Kev has a “friend” aka local vagrant who likes to speak a mix of Kazakh and English to him when he catches us in the morning while we wait for our driver or while Kev takes out the trash. We have no idea where he lives or how he knows when we come down but he’s out almost every morning. Well this afternoon, he was outside our apartment again after we came home. He asked what we were doing and we told him we were going shopping. It was very uncomfortable. He followed us all the way to the Columbia store where Kev found a great softshell fleece on sale for less than can be had in the US. We said goodbye hoping he’d go away and then in the store he went with us. He followed Kev all around and was like a shadow. He was pretty much on top of Kevin in the store, even standing behind him when Kev was looking in the mirror to see how the jacket fit. Laura could not contain herself and had to avoid all eye contact in order not to laugh too loudly. It didn’t help that Irina kept asking, “Mommy, why are you laughing so hard like that?” The people inside the store were entertained by our “escort.” Laura was giving the people there the HELP ME look and the male store worker asked the vagrant if he was with us. As soon as the man said DA, Kev said NYET. And out the man went, extremely unhappy as he was pretty much pushed out of the store by the male employee. He waited outside the store for quite a bit while we were inside. Thankfully the workers kept an eye out for him and told us when he was further down the street. It was really nice of them, as they could have continued to laugh at the situation and not intervene. From there, we walked across the road (which has a nice park in the middle) to do some food shopping. We were somewhat concerned he’d be waiting for us when we returned. Thankfully he was not, however we spotted him pacing around our apartment as we un-packed our groceries, cooked and ate dinner, and is still outside our apartment now as we write this. We may need some local intervention which is somewhat intimidating. The local police walk around with huge winter hats, blue camouflage uniforms, and giant night sticks. There is also a military base around here which we didn’t know the last time we were here. We’ve seen many soldiers in various uniforms over the past few weeks we’ve been here. One of the Kazak girls in the English class said that her father is a retired police Lieutenant and if he gives us any problems tomorrow, we could ask her about it when we go back to the English class.

Tonight we have been assigned homework-we have to write up the speeches we will give to the judge when we go to court. First Kevin will give his and then it will be Laura’s turn. We have to talk about why we want to adopt a baby and about the kind of life we will provide for him. We have “pre-court” on Monday morning. This is where we meet with the judge and he checks over all of our paperwork. We should have court the next day or the day after that (Tuesday or Wednesday). We are hoping to find out when exactly court is so that we can plan our trip back home to Belgium.

Irina has been really interested in learning Russian. Back in the apartment, she entertains herself by “speaking Russian” for hours on end. She “has an office” and “works” through the evening in English and “Russian.” We have been practicing her reading in the evenings and play games with her words. Watching a DVD on her portable DVD player is a special treat for her every few days. She loves to watch Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music over and over again (definitely her mother’s child!).

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