Saturday, June 10, 2006

Baby House Visitation Day 10/14

Hello from Snowy Astana!!!

Snow from the cottonwood trees that is.  You wouldn't believe it.  Everyday looks like soft fluffy snowflakes coming down.  It is starting to get a little bit annoying because they are constantly blowing in your eyes, nose and mouth.  We'll survive. 

It has been very hot the last couple of days and we are expecting to reach highs of 102 degrees today and tomorrow.  We are learning all the ways to keep an apartment without air conditioning cool during the day.  Yesterday, Bryan put our zebra pillows and the box from our fan in the window to block out the sun.  It actually worked pretty well.  Not sure what it looked like from the outside but one of our neighbors has plastered his windows with newspaper from top to bottom so we think the zebra pillows are much more interesting. 

We went to the Baby House today and because of the heat all 5 families were in the playroom or ball room as others call it.  It was crowded but fun because it gives us all a chance to get to know each other better.  Lots of variety in backgrounds.  We have one family from CA, one from PA, one from DC -a family from Atlanta and our nearest neighbors in Chicago.  Of that group their are two Jonathan's, two Andrews.  All are boys with the exception of one precious little girl named Alaina.  She is adorable and all of the boys are very handsome and happy.  It is really fun to watch all them interact with their new families.  LOTS of love in one small room I tell you. 

After the Baby House we droppped off our things in the apartment and headed out for our afternoon lunch/early dinner.  We decided we were getting into a habit of eating at the same places so we needed to get brave and experience something new.  We decided to try fast food in Kaz and found a place on the recommendation of other Americans in our group.  It was a bit of a hike for us but what else do we have to do?  We got there and our choices were pizza/pasta or hamburgers/hotdogs.  Well, I'm sure by now you can guess who went where.  I headed for the pizza counter but the menu was all in Russian so I was left to rely on the pictures since I couldn't tell what the toppings might be.  Their was a big slab of meat cooking on a slow cooker and I knew I didn't want that on my pizza so I just went the safe route for my limited palate and got the cheese pizza.  Bryan ate a cheeseburger and fries.  He said it was ok.  The fries were good so I helped him eat those.  We got lucky and sat by the one air conditioner in the whole place.  It was a treat! 

After lunch we decided we would try to find the Inter-Continental Hotel which is the nicest hotel in Kaz, pretty Americanized and had a casino.  We thought we would see if we could strike it rich or at least give us some entertainment for a few hours in some good old A/C.  It was the furthest walk we have had to date but we got a good look at parts of the city we hadn't explored yet.  We walked in and there were little shops to look in and we found a nice place with some good souveniers. 

We have been looking for things for Rachael as well as things for Jonathan to have each year on his "gotcha" date. We want to be able to celebrate his heritage with him as he grows older so hopefully that "missing" part of him will be satisfied as much as possible.  Bryan found the greatest thing.  They are seven figurines designed in Kazak national style to be given to him on special occasions.  In their folklore, the Kazak people have always tried to express the best human qualities, feelings and ideas-those that unite people across boundries, help people overcome life's obstacles and preserve hope for a beautiful future.  Each of the seven figurines have a symbollic name-designations that in both meaning and essence are dear to every person on Earth.  This is the interesting analogy-The number seven has been historically and remains today one of great significance in many cultures.  Many proverbs and sayings involve this number, and its divine mystique is evident all around us: the seven days of the week, the great capitals of Rome, Moscow and Kiev are built on seven hills, Semirechye(Seven Rivers) in Kazakhstan, and most importantly, God's creation of the Earth and Man in seven days. 

The seven figurines are Wisdom, Longevity, Health, Guardian of Family, Luck, Happiness, and Wealth.

We haven't decided at what age we will begin giving them to Jonathan but we loved the symbolism of each figurine and think it is something he will treasure always. 

The casino-not woth the walk but it was fun to see the hotel, use the bathroom where TP was provided and of course air conditioning never hurts the experience either. 

After we made our purchases we walked back to our apartment.  Boy do I wish I had my pedometer so I could see the miles we are putting on.  It would have been fun to keep track but best of all makes eating those chocolate eclairs a lot more guilt free!!!(and it only costs 40 tenge or about 34 cents for total delight!)

Tomorrow we are going to do what you are supposed to do with horses--RIDE THEM versus eating them.  We are going to an indoor saddle club with Dina.  We are looking forward to that.  My suggestion of the beach isn't going over so well with Bryan.  I think he is worried he might feel pressured to wear a Speedo like everyone else.  We'll save that for another day. 

Hope all is well in your world.  We continue to treasure our 2 hour visits with our little boy, and feel very fortunate for the adoption agency we have been lucky enough to work with along with  our new friends Dina and Boshjan.  They are fabulous and we feel so lucky to have them. We are very well taken care of and things are going very smoothly.  I could really get used to this "having a driver" thing. 

God's blessings to you. 


Jonathan and Dina.  They adore each other and he gets very excited to see her.  She will visit him as much as possible while we are back in the U.S. awaiting our return to Kaz.

Can't wait to have both our kids in the photo!  We love you Rachael-xoxoxoxoxoxo