Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Baby House Visitation Countdown 13/14!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello from the Drake's in Kaz.  Still toughing out the heat but tomorrow will give us a couple of days to get our apartment cooled down before it warms back up again.  We just completed day 13 of 14 required visitation days which means we can apply for our court date on Thursday.  That is very good news and everything with the process continues to go very smoothly.  Our agency has built some incredible and more importantly respectable relationships here with all of the people, places, Ministries etc that make this either a relatively easy experience or a nightmare.  We have had no surprises so far and are thankful for that.  Dina keeps things clipping along and does a lot of work behind the scenes to keep things moving for us.  The most amazing thing about her is she keeps everything that she has to do in her brain.  No lists, no calender and God forbid, no Blackberry or Laptop.  I would be completely lost without all of those things.  She amazes me, and she never forgets a thing.  Well, that is until yesterday.  We picked her up on the way to our visit with Jonathan and she was still a little shaken.  She kept saying "you wouldn't believe what happened to me this morning."  We asked what happened and she just kept saying "you wouldn't believe it if I told you".  Well, now she had us going and so she finally told us that her morning started out quite stressful.  She left early in the morning to go do some things for us at the Ministry of Education and she took a taxi to get there.  She carries her purse with her everywhere as most women do but she keeps lots of important things in there.  Well, she set it on the seat of the taxi cab, which she said she never does, and proceeded to get out of the cab without it.  She remembered she didn't have it as she watched the cab drive down the street in a sea of traffic.  She did what only Dina can do and got people moving quickly to track down this faceless cabbie and by the grace of God, I still don't have all the details, found him parked at some apartment building(this city isn't small either).  She ran up to him and said "please give me my bag" and he looked at her rather puzzled because he didn't know it was in the backseat-if he had-there would have been no bag.  She got her bag out of the back seat and all was good but she was quite shaken about it.  She still managed to buy milk and snacks for the Dr.s at the BabyHouse for a little treat though.  She is a sweetheart. 

More than you wanted to know about that.  We had a great breakthrough today.  At least we hope it was a breakthrough.  We went up to Jonathan's room to pick him up and we snuck into the room where they feed the kids in his group and also have the play area for them.  He was sitting with his back to us in a walker.  I said his name and he finally turned around and saw both of us and went CRAZY with excitement.  He just screamed and jumped up and down and flapped his arms.  It was quite the scene but we of course loved every minute of it.  He has been acknowledging us with smiles but this was different.  This was a happy, "hey, my mom and dad are here to get me" kind of excitement that all parents remember from when there kids were small.  It is the absolute best feeling in the world.  Then, the caregivers reinforce it by saying to him something in Russian but part of which includes, "Mamma, Poppa" .  It made our day to say the least.

We started our visit by going outside to swing and just walk a bit. We opted to avoid the stroller so we just carried him.  It was still too hot for all of the families to be in the playroom so we decided we would take the outside shift first and give the others a chance to have the room.  I do need to remember that he has just eaten lunch before we pick him up and to cease the bouncing and tickling for a while so I can avoid some spit up on my clothes.  Yesterday was a projectile incident which landed in my shoe.  Jonathan remained completely clean which is all that matters. 

He was really scooting around today once we went inside.  We decided if he wants something bad enough he will in fact go get it.  So far water and a certain toy have been those things.  I have been taking the bottle with me the last few days due to the heat and also because I want him to learn to suck on the bottle for the plane ride home.  Right now, they hold a cup(a China cup to be exact) and a towel under their mouth and start pouring it in.  He seems to enjoy the bottle and I think at 8 months he can still have one, don't you?  They have too many children to mess with bottles in the room so they do what they have to do to get the kids fed in a timely manner.  Yesterday there seemed to be a lot more kids in there than I have seen before, so without a doubt the caregivers are busy all of the time. 

By the end of our visit, Jonathan was either really tired and hot or didn't feel the best.  I think the cottonwoods may have been getting to him but he cried really hard right before we took him back.  It was definitely nap time. I changed his diaper(and now I know why my sister told me to cover while changing-it also doesn't help to wipe him with a cold wet wipe).  Anyway, he had a dry diaper and was ready for his nap, but they didn't know I had been giving him water so they tried before they put him down for his nap and he of course was water logged so he started crying again.  They handed him back to me so I could put him down for his nap and now he was officially screaming his head off.  I laid him down and tried to sooth him before I got booted out of the room.  Bryan said they think I'm spoiling him.  Maybe so, but I can't stand to leave him when he is crying.  Especially when I don't come back for 24 hours.  I will let him cry at home but he will figure out that it is me that soothes him and it will be ok. 

After our visit and our lunch of rice(we really like it and it's CHEAP) we decided we would hit the Left Coast of the City or the New City as they call it here.  I have mentioned it in earlier posts but we had only seen it by car up to this point.  We decided we were going to walk there.  Our apartment is located kind of in the middle of the old city and the new, so it wasn't a bad walk and after all what else do we have to do.  The new part of the city is very nice but lots of construction taking place simultaneously.  At one point when Bryan was videotaping a little footage, he spun around in a circle and counted 17 or 18 cranes.  They want to be the New York of Central Asia by 2030 so the construction is crazy.  Part of our mission yesterday in addition to looking at the Ball was to find this grocery store that the other families had been talking about where there were supposedly some good baby toys etc.  We knew the name, but forgot that the letters in Russian are different than in English so we wondered to the far opposite end of the New Left City in search of the store.  It gave us a great walking tour though which otherwise we wouldn't have seen.  If you can imagine the White House and then looking straight down the Mall to the Washington Monument and then the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. that is the way the New City is set up.  You have the Presidential Palace at the far end and then when you look ahead you see fountain after fountain until you come to the Baiterek-The Symbol of Astana, or the ball as we call it.  Beyond that you see many more fountains all in a row along with the singing fountains that light up at night and play music when they go off, until you finally come to the magnificent Oil and Gas Company at the end that circles the end of the row.  Underneath there is the store we were looking for along with several restaraunts.  It was a great walk and if we weren't so thirsty we would have stopped by the fountains and enjoyed them a little more.  We needed water......

Our quest for the grocery store gave us the opportunity to witness the making of a music video at the final fountain.  We watched that for quite sometime.  We aren't sure who the three guys were but Dina will know.  I'm sure they are "somebody" because it appeared to have been a song about Astana(I can still sing it in my head) and so we were guessing they were making some tourism commercial for Astana.  The lead singer had to quit for a smoke break so we decided we had seen enough and began our journey home.  Not a minute too soon either because when we were nearing our apartment it started to rain(thank goodness) and we concluded the evening watching more TV reruns we had brought, eating Bryan's second batch of popcorn(this batch was much better) and watching the storm outside.  Here are some photos of today......


Bryan said I was pulling a Michael Jackson with this one but Jonathan liked it and I was holding on to him tightly. 


I caught Bryan in a blink but Jonathan looked to cute not to post this one. 

You can see the Presidential Palace in the background behind the Ball.  Going forward from the ball you see flowers and fountains for a mile or so until you come to the Gas and Oil Building that I mentioned.  It's very pretty. 


The making of a music video in Kaz.  "OOOhhh, Astana, ooohhhhh, Astanaaaaa.  Can't you just hear the tune now??