Chasing Ivancic's


You are currently viewing archive for April 2006
Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
We had court at 9:30 this morning and it was a success!!!! Yay!!!! There’s now a 15 day waiting period until we can take custody. That along with a few days of paperwork in Astana, and Dina can bring Jack to meet us in Almaty around 5/21 or 5/23…somewhere in there. The court proceedings were intense. We were in a little room with a prosecutor, a judge, a court stenographer (writing all proceedings, no actual stenography machine), Dina, the Social Worker from our very first day (who happens to live across the hall from the apartment we’ve been staying in), and us. Everything was spoken in Russian and was translated by Dina. It was hard to follow and keep focus. Pete had to speak on our behalf and then I had to stand and say whether I agreed or not...we were both very nervous, but Pete did a great job!!! After court today, we had our visit with Jack as usual…of course, it was a little bit sweeter today.

Sorry for not posting yesterday. Yesterday was a very busy day and then we went to Dina’s home for dinner last night. She made a ton of food and her hard work was well appreciated. Dina also invited a friend of her’s over to meet us as well, Aynura (same name as Jason & Michelle’s translator…but a different woman), who wanted to practice her English. It was a wonderful night and a little too much vodka made this morning a bit rough along with trying to get ready for court. Not the day to have the major pounding headache with a sour stomach…thank God court only lasted 45 min.

We’re having another celebration tonight at Buk-a-rah with Jason, Michelle, Dina, and Baurzhan. I think perhaps we’ll skip the vodka….the 7 or 8 shots we each had last night was quite enough. We’ll be on our way home tomorrow and we look forward to seeing you when we get back…

...Sweet Success!!!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Much to my relief, we got to feed Jack today. You cannot believe how much food these kids are fed and how fast. This Mom wasn’t getting a speeding ticket for this offense, I fed him very slow compared to the caregivers. Our visit started today in Jack’s group. We went to his group a little early and saw him get woken up from his nap. They put him in the play area with some other children while they were preparing his lunch. He eventually crawled up to the little knee-wall gate that surrounds the play area and from there he spotted us. He started to tug on the gate until you could hear the gate rattle on the hinges. He was not upset, he was excited. Once his lunch was heated, we all sat together in little chairs (like the ones in music room) around a little table. I put a leather bib on him and it was suggested that I put the bib across the table and I should put the bowl of food right on top of the bib to hold it in place. You wouldn’t believe the amount of food that he’s fed for lunch. The first course was a bowl of soup with bread, potatoes, and parsley in it. They gave me a spoon that was at least the size of a tablespoon to feed him with. The 2nd course was a bowl of mashed potatoes, carrots, and ground beef mashed all together. This bowl was heaping. As a finish up, he has a cup of warm water with jelly in it…it’s kind of like jello just before you put it in the refrigerator. He gulped that down right from the cup…no sippy cup. Now, I know why he usually spits up on me within the first 10-15 min of our visit. Following this scrumptious Feast, it’s potty time. We got to see all the children on their potties, just hanging out...some of these little guys had been on their potties for quite a while. You see, the sooner you finish lunch the sooner you are moved on to the next station and you get to hang out here until everyone has had a chance to go potty. I’m not sure getting done with lunch faster than everyone else is all that it’s cracked up to be.

After our visit, we bought our plane tickets that will get us back to Almaty in time to catch our flight home. We’ve also had to kick it into gear to do some wrap up activities that we need to get done before we go to court and leave Astana. It’s hard to believe that a month has gone by so fast. In my wildest dreams, I did not expect this time to go by so quickly. We met Jason & Michelle for dinner in reverse (no, we didn’t throw up). We first met for cappuccino at my favorite little Italian café and after that we went for some dinner at Shymkent. Pete and I ate a small lunch for a change, so we were hungry when originally we didn’t think we would be. Jason & Michelle came along too but just to have beer…they weren’t hungry. Ordering was kind of a challenge again. Jason actually called their translator, Aynura, on his cell phone and then he handed the phone over to the waitress. This worked great…or so we thought…15-20 minutes later, the wrong dinners arrived…we had ordered beef kabobs and a bowl of rice each and what arrived at the table appeared to be a cheeseburger with a fried egg on top with a side of rice, each. Uh-oh…our favorite waitress came over and rescued us….she understood that we didn’t want that and took our order for what we did want….and sometime later, we were in heaven. I am going to miss Shymkent when we go home, beef kabobs at home are just not the same. I really give a lot of credit to the wonderful wait staff that has tried to help us out, when they could just’ve gone to get the English-speaking waitress and bail on us, they don’t…

...Soup's On!!!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Our court date has been moved up to Friday 4/28. This is wonderful news and we’ll be able to keep our original plans to come home on Sunday...we’re very grateful for Dina’s hard work. This will keep us on track to return to get our little guy around May 22nd. We’re very excited to be in the homestretch now….for real!!!

We had our visit today in the playroom. We had a lot of fun playing with Jack’s shoes. These shoes actually belong to the Baby Home and they’re soooo cute…not really sure if they’re boy shoes or not but he sure did think they taste good. We played the new favorite game of keep away…with the lid for his sippy cup. He really likes it when he thinks you can’t get something from him…oh yes, he’s going to fit in just fine at our house. He went to Pete a lot today…that was really great to see. I was starting to feel pretty guilty about this, but of course, secretly, I loved every minute (shhhh!!!). We practiced high-fives today…he could almost do it on command. We’ll have to review that again tomorrow. I did get a real thrill when I brought him back to his group at the end of our visit…he didn’t want to go back to his caregiver. He really likes all the women who take care of him and he usually wants to go back to them but not today. He just wanted to stay with me….this is awesome and at the same time crushing, because I know the next few weeks will be hard for him and probably even harder for us. We’re going to have another chance to feed Jack tomorrow. We’re getting picked up at the crack of 11:00…it’s going to be an early day.

Pete made us spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight. We did our last “big” shopping trip to the Ram store (I highly doubt it is “the” last trip) and probably bought more stuff than we can use up in the next few days, at the time of the shopping trip, we still thought we would be here for another week. By the way, Pete wanted you all to see "the office" where these daily blogs come from...many of you will recognize me in my normal work pose - sitting cross-legged at a laptop. :)

...Mom's Favorite

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Yay!!! We now have a court date…but it’s not until Tuesday 5/2. We will need to make a change to our flights to come home. I’m investigating how to go about making these changes. We need paper tickets, which might mean a huge Fedex bill to get the tickets to us in time to use them. Flights only leave Almaty on certain days for Frankfurt, so even though court will be done on 5/2, we may not be able to catch a flight until Thursday 5/4 or the following Sunday 5/7. We’ll keep you posted on this one.

We had our visit today in the playroom again. Jack was back to normal. He came dressed for the summer….you gotta love the shorts, they came up to his chest and he was handed to us wearing them at this height. It was a beautiful warm day here and I thought for sure they were going to have us bring him outside..but they didn’t. I guess even they thought it was too warm for the snowsuit and I don’t think he’ll get outside without a snowsuit until after May 1st. We took a few video clips and we took some pictures..but our camera was dying and then the camcorder card was full…media challenged today sorry…but I guess we’re all going to have to prepare for a period of time without any pictures…so we’ll have to ween you off slowly.

After our visit, Dina had to be at the courthouse for 2:30pm…so we headed directly there and Pete, Baurzhan and I waited for her in the car; we waited for 1.5 hrs. Pete and I were starving, we usually have lunch right after our visit. After that we dropped our things off at the apartment and went somewhere else for another errand and then we finally got a bite to eat. We went to the Astana Market. It’s a little sidewalk café where they serve kabobs, these burrito type things, and plov. The plov is like rice pilaf stir-fry thing. This was good…but Dina made us some of this homemade the other night and we liked it better.

...Back by Popular Demand

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Well folks today was a Sunday, that means no Jack. We miss him awful on these days. We filled the day with a nice visit from Jason and Michelle. We had them over for lunch and then we went for a long walk around the city. We took them to a park on the side of the river that they had not been to before and we went over another bridge to a nice park that we had never been to before. We walked through a kind of amusement park on the other side of the river. They were just getting the park ready for it’s official opening on May 1st. I was glad for that because most of the rides looked pretty scary, old and not too many safety features! It was probably the nicest day since we’ve been here, lots of sun, no mud, no wind, and NO DUST! Pete made chicken breasts with Wayland, MA basmati rice and mixed vegetables and then after our walk, we had banana splits, courtesy of Jason & Michelle (they brought all the fixings). It was a great way to spend the day and get ready for tomorrow’s visit.

We only took one picture today of a shoe store that’s right in front of our apartment building. We took a picture of this so you could see a little bit of the Cyrllic signage. We only took the one picture, because again Pete was waved off by the police or a guard of some sort…What’s up with that? This is now the 3rd time we’ve been told not to take any pictures. I think we need to get to the bottom of this.

Here’s the lone picture and also one video clip. We haven’t included these earlier because they take quite a bit of time to upload.

...Jack Clip

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Well, we were suppose to feed Jack today, it was set up in advance but when the moment came…we were told "no" and maybe on Monday. I am disappointed that this didn’t work out today. I’m starting to stress about this because we will have him for a whole week in Almaty in a hotel room and I have no clue what to feed him. We won’t have a kitchen where we can cook him anything and I think that’s pretty much all the food he eats. He is use to a cup of broth and steamed beef with mashed potatoes and carrots. I don’t think I can just find the Almaty Ram store and buy him some baby food. I can do that with a few items but he’ll need something more substantial. I’m also concerned that the first time I’m ever going to feed him might be under conditions where he hates everything we might have for him. Granted he’s a good size little boy and you generally don’t get to be that size without some indiscretion.

While we were waiting for our chance to feed him (before we were denied), we were watching him play a little bit with some of the other kids in his group…he’s a bruiser. He immediately when over and yanked a toy out of another child’s hands…uh-oh…now I know how he gets little scratches on his arms and legs, he’s starting these little skirmishes. He didn’t know we were watching him, but as soon as he realized he just about knocked another little guy over to pull himself up on a little half wall to get to us. The caregivers didn’t want us to interfere, but I just couldn’t stand there and let him cry and not pick him up. That’s when we got tossed out. Our translator wasn’t with us at this time, so we’re not certain of what actually went on. So we left and we were sent down to the play room. When we got there, Jason & Michelle were there with their little boy Wyatt, and another woman (and her mother…that’s who is holding Anna in the picture) were there too with their little girl Anna. They were all wrapping up their visits, and soon the room would be ours alone. That worked out good because that room is crowded with two families, let alone three. The window is fixed in the playroom...we took a picture for proof. There's also a few more video clips.

As our visit had started, it also ended on a low note. We were playing in front of the mirror for a while and finally Jack was kind of tired of that and he was starting to get kind of restless and crying, which is how he usually gets when he just wants me to walk him around and settle him down for his nap. In that same instant (which was exactly 2pm), the caregiver came back to get him and scurried him away without allowing us the chance to get him calmed back down…and now we won’t get to see him until Monday again. We’re a little bummed out. We still don’t yet know our court date either. So many things beyond our control made today just one “those” days.

A pick-me up to our day was having some lunch with Jason & Michelle at Shymkent. We also went shopping at a little mall they had found that has only children’s stores. We bought a few new shirts for Jack and yet another jacket. Hopefully next week, you’ll be able to see his new little t-shirt and the Tugboat shirt can have a day off. We had to stop at the Ram store just to make the day complete, we estimated that we walked about 3.5 or 4 miles today.

...Kazakh Jack
Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Jack just wanted to be held and cuddled today. Not sure if he was tired and just craving some face to face time. He loves to just put his cheek next to mine and hang around that way for as long as he can. I’m not sure we actually got any shots of this today, but I included a shot from an earlier day. We kicked the soccer ball back and forth with Dad for a little bit that got a few giggles. Dina took some nice pictures of the 3 of us at the beginning of our visit today, thanks Dina! I also attempted to post a small video that we took from our digital camera.

We still haven’t found out when our court date will be, but I’m getting the feeling it won’t happen next week and the following week has a 2 day holiday on 5/1 & 5/2, so we may not get to court until 5/3. If that happens, we’ll definitely need to delay our return and that will in turn delay our embassy stuff in Almaty (for the 2nd trip) and we will probably get all tangled up in the US Memorial Day holiday (because it’s the US Embassy). Please keep your fingers crossed for us that we get in next week.

I went for a massage today after our visit. I had a massage for 1.5 hrs. for 3000 tenge ($20). It’s a much different massage than those you get a home. The atmosphere is a little different. The massage is much more vigorous and you’re behind a curtain rather than in a dark little room. There are other massage tables in the same room, each behind a curtain as well. There weren’t any other people being massaged at the same time I was. It was an experience. Later on, Peter and I walked to Shymkent for dinner and this was the first time we actually had some trouble ordering. Up until now, we’ve had the same waitress and she does understand some English. Tonight we had a waiter and he did his best to match our English menu choices to the choices on the Russian menu. We ended up with the ground beef kabob rather than the beef kabobs that are more like steak tips. We were going to order some dumplings, but we didn’t know what they were actually called on the menu in English, so he had nothing to go on to find the Russian equivalent, so we just opted for a Greek salad each…that was the path of least resistance. We also ordered two orders of rice (which never came and didn’t end up on the bill, so no harm no foul). We don’t think the rice ended up on the bill, not because we can read the bill written all in Cyrllic, but rather we just counted the number of items ordered vs. the number of items we received…and those seem to tie out. We also ordered one beer and one “nem noga” (little) coke. (If you don’t specifically order small, you will get a liter of coke.) We ended up with 2 giant beers and a little glass of warm coke…Oh well, Pete was happy. Who cares…we like all the food at this restaurant it we got all of this for like $14. After that we went to our favorite little Italian place and had cappuccino and cognac. That cost almost as much our dinner.

Now we’re just back in the apartment listening to fireworks going off outside somewhere. It is a tradition to light fireworks as part of wedding celebrations and Friday and Saturday nights are typical nights for weddings. The PS2 Need for Speed Most Wanted soundtrack continues to drone on in the background as Pete still can’t quit this game and he’s finally on #2 again…Watch out Mikey, he might beat us again!!!!

...Just for Laughs

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Every visit starts with the books. Jack really loves to hold them and nibble a little on the red one. He’s getting one of his top front teeth. I’m afraid by the time we get back, he’s going to look very different. In case you haven’t noticed by now in a few pictures, he gets my glasses. He’s not as quick as my niece Haley (she’s the fastest I’ve ever seen), but what he lacks in speed he makes up for with his tight grip…they become nearly impossible for me to get back until he’s slobbered on them so much, that they’re even too gross for him to hold on to. I think I did bring another pair of glasses with me, but after 3 weeks, I’ve yet to find them in my luggage….so let’s hope this pair holds up. We found a new game to play that causes lots of giggles and belly laughs. Jack likes keep away, when he can keep something away from us. He was hysterical. We blew more bubbles today and he really seemed to like it better. We had our visit in the music room again….BTW, the glass in the door is getting repaired tomorrow for 5500 tenge ($50).

After our visit, we went to the Ram store. We took a bunch of pictures of the store for you….outside and in…before I could take the very last picture, I had a security guard running after me to tell me to stop…sorry, I didn’t get to take the picture before he interrupted me…that would’ve been funny I know. It looks like an ordinary store…nothing exciting but since a few of you asked we thought we would oblige. We did manage to get a picture of the fish counter, and you can see a whole fish in there…and there are many fish in the case with the head still on. I inquired whether that would be removed if I requested one. Dina advised that I would probably need to remove that myself….moving on. We took a picture of Pete next to meat counter, but our friends in back were not wielding the big axe at this time. My personal favorite pic is of the make-up counter called “Beauty Planet” where the song “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas is eternally playing. “What you gon' do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk?” Also on the signage outside the store…the sign says Pamctop, that is Ramstore in Russian. P=R and C=S in Cyrillic alphabet.

We had dinner with Jason & Michelle at a different English pub, The Chelsea Pub. It was pretty good, a little more expensive than other restaurants like Shymkent. We had hamburgers and club sandwiches and big beers. You can also order cigarettes and/or tobacco in most restaurants, they’re offered right on the menu. We saw a guy smoke a houka pipe at this restaurant. The pipe looks like a big ornate water-pipe (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). We discussed the feasibility of bringing such a souvenir back home and decided we probably wouldn’t make it past customs.

Just waiting to hear when our court date will be. With any luck it will be next week, if it’s not we will need to reschedule our flights to return to the US. The court date drives all the rest of the travel dates for returning to get Jack. We’ll keep you posted….

...Beauty Planet

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Things were back to normal with our little guy. Jack was happy to see me when I went to get him from his group and we have been relegated back to the music room, that’s what I thought might happen. Oh well, we had a great time, despite the fact that he barfed on me like 4 times today. Yesterday he got me within the first 2 minutes of our visit. They feed him just before we get him and I think they really fill him up with lunch and we probably bounce him around a little too much. It’s hard to resist doing that when he giggles and laughs while it’s going on. We blew bubbles, but he didn’t really like the bubbles, they kept popping on him and I think he didn’t like the little splashes of soap and water. Jack answered to the name Jack today, today was the first time. Today was the first day we didn’t call him Medet at all. Up until now, we’ve been using Medet and then gradually transitioning to Jack.

We went to the open air market and experienced shopping Kazakh style. We did not take any pictures of this because we really had to keep our wits about us while going through there. We went directly to this market from the Baby Home and we left Baurzhan with our cameras and all our bags and backpacks in the car with him. It was extremely busy although Dina advised it us that it was not that busy…and “if you think this is busy, you should see it on the weekend”…and then she told us she would not take us here on the weekend. LOL…it’s too crazy and the crowds are so tight, you almost do not have control of where you are going and there are many pickpockets working on those days. All of the merchandise is new and it’s mostly clothes and shoes. All vendors have a little booth and if you would like to try an item on you can step into their booth and they will hold up a curtain for you to change behind and then a mirror for you to check your look. Ummm…I’m good. Thanks, I don’t need any new blouses or jeans. It’s a little chilly here today, probably the wrong day to go to this market…but we walked around for probably an hour, then we needed to go to a bakery…so we got a few crème puffs and a fantastic flaky puff pastry with an apple and raisin spread in the center…Yummm!!!

A few people had requested more family photos of the 3 of us, so Dina took a few pictures of us today for your viewing pleasure. I’ve also included a picture of Pete helping with the blog…


04/18: Win-dy!!!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Take a good look at the playroom, because we may not be allowed back in this room after today. The wind was so strong today that while we were airing out the playroom with the windows open and before Jack was brought to us, a big gust of wind caused the door to the playroom to slam shut breaking the glass in the door. Cha-ching $$$!!!! The wind here today is ridiculous, it’s like hurricane force winds and the dust it creates is disgusting. It is so dusty, the sky looks like grayish, like it’s going to rain. Sand blows everywhere, just walking from the car to the Baby Home, our teeth got gritty; the kind of gritty taste in your mouth like when you eat food at the beach. Blech!!! It gets in your eyes, ears, and the corners of your mouth. People say it is like this for much of the summer here.

Jack was a little out of sorts today, but I think we had a decent recovery for the 2nd hour of the visit. He was mistakenly brought downstairs early, because the caregiver had been told his parents were there. We weren’t there yet, not sure how the mistake happened, but our understanding is that he was not shown to other people, but instead, he was brought down and no one was there to see him. The caregiver then brought him back upstairs to his group and he was very upset and he was crying a lot because we weren’t there. This broke my heart, but at the same time it does feel good to know that he really was sad he didn’t see us. When we were on our way to the playroom, the caregiver who had brought him downstairs earlier saw us and knew at once to go and get him again for us. While she was doing this, that is when the mishap with the door happened. There was smashed glass everywhere by the time she brought Jack to us…he saw me and started to cry and didn’t want to come to me. This is the first time this has ever happened. As soon as I took him into my arms, he stopped crying but he held on tight to me for the 1st half hour or so. Pete and another person from the Baby Home were cleaning glass up from the floor and vacuuming. Jack just took it all in. Jack really did like the vacuum…I think he especially liked Pete vacuuming…I know I did. The caregiver who was helping pick up the glass told Dina that she was surprised at how much Pete was doing; she said men here do nothing. I told Dina, I know how lucky I am. After a little while he found the mirror and his favorite playmate, his reflection. Next to the mirror, he noticed the slide with a ladder…all seemed to be forgiven.

We received a very special Easter wish from the Ivancic family. They took the time to make some signs and take some group photos of various family members holding up the signs and messages to wish us a Happy Easter…that was sweet….and we decided to share their thoughtfulness with everyone who visits the site today.

...Family Time
Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
New shoes, new hat, striped shirt, and plaid pants. Who dresses this kid anyway? Well, Pete and I can only take responsibility for the hat and shoes today. The rest of the ensemble happened prior to our arrival. We bought him a hat and shoes, because those will be required for him to when he leaves the Baby Home. Yes, the hat does say “Sweety Boy”. We thought it was amazingly appropriate. His new shoes are a little too big, but he’s got a month before he wears them and hopefully they’ll last a little bit of the summer. I think he really loves the shoes, but the hat’s another story. It’s very hot here today, 75-80, but it’s extremely windy and dusty. It’s very flat here and when they get wind, there aren’t any trees, hills or mountains to slow it down. We stayed inside and played in the music room, but it was boiling. The plaid pants Jack had on were fleece lined, we got him out of those as soon as possible and he had 2 shirts on. We opened the window in the music room, but if the caregivers catch you, there’s no telling how much trouble you might get in…in Kazakh of course. What? What’s that? What do you say? Shrug!!!

Baurzhan got pulled over again today…nope he wasn’t speeding (see I’m not a jinx). He was pulled over because at that intersection there had been an accident at about the same time yesterday and a person died and the driver of the other car took off, a hit a run committed by someone driving a similar car to Baurzhan’s. They were stopping all Volkswagens. After our delay, we were on our way to get some documents notarized. Today was a milestone in our visit – it was day 15. The bonding period is now complete and we have (as of today) petitioned the court to allow us to adopt Jack Medet Ivancic. Hopefully, we’ll have the court date one day next week that will make us Jack’s parents.

Well, Pete’s calling me for dinner…we’re having spaghetti and meat sauce with some nice fresh bread and red wine. After dinner, we’re meeting Jason & Michelle for a drink at a little English Pub that’s down near the Ram store. We’ll let you know tomorrow if there’s anything in English at the pub. Later on, we’ll settle in for a movie followed by 1-2 episodes of Mary Tyler Moore season 3. We’re coming dangerously close to finishing those up probably in the next day or so. We have a few more movies to watch on dvd and thank God our friends have given us a few of theirs to watch…we way underestimated the number of dvds to travel with. I’m really looking forward to checking out the next season of MTM when we get back…Ted Baxter never gets old.

...Sweety Boy!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Hi Everyone…no new pictures today, just a few from another day. We don’t get to visit Jack on Sundays. We went shopping for him though….and I bought a pair of shoes… black Prada for $50…no, those are for me…I also bought him a pair too. We went to a mall and it was absolutely jammed with people. Here in Kazakhstan everyone works or goes to school for 6 days a week, Mon-Sat. So on Sundays, they treat themselves to shopping and restaurants.

After shopping, we got the last table at Shymkent. We finally had lamb there. Everytime we’ve gone (at least 6 times), they’ve not had lamb…but today we were lucky. It was very good and worth waiting for. We also deviated a little from our norm and ordered some vodka to have with dinner. They list the vodka on the menu in quantity. So it’s not offered mixed as a drink (ie: Cosmopolitan), instead it’s offered as .5 liter of vodka for 1500 tenge, or you can specify a smaller quantity too. We got 200 grams, which is ½ of .5 liter. Thank God we did it that way…that was like 4 shots each for Pete and I. Dina and Baurzhan did not have any. Needless to say, we had to go straight home after that. We came home and had a little rest and then we went for a walk to our favorite hot spot, the Ram store…we needed toilet paper…unglamorous I know. We took a walk along the Ishim River which is just behind the Ram store and then we went upstairs above the store and had a cappuccino and an éclair. After a quick stroll through the store, we walked home. It is so nice 75 degrees. I hope you are all having such nice weather.

Now we’re just hanging out watching Cribs, Pimp My Ride and a little bit of American Chopper (Orange County Choppers)…all in Russian of course. All courtesy of MTV and the Discovery Channels.…peace out.


Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
We had to…err I mean…got to bring Jack outside again today. He did seem to like it better today, although he was just as bundled up as yesterday. We actually got a few pictures of him smiling. His eyes are closed because of the bright sun, not because he is sleeping. It was cleaning day here in Astana. Everywhere we went there were people out painting the bottoms of the trees white, sweeping, and picking up litter that had been pushed aside by the snow-plows all winter long. Jack had a new noise today…the “raspberry”…with tons of drool. We managed to get a few shots of him looking like a blowfish. Ok, I know spitting is bad, but he was too cute to discourage him from doing this. He seemed especially happy today, except for the last 10-15 min. of our visit. Lately he has been spitting up some part of his lunch sometime during our visit, which of course means, I need to change him. The last 3 days, it’s happened just before our visit is over. So by now, I think he realizes that if we change him, it’s almost time for us to go and for him to go to his nap. You’ll notice the pictures of him with his new shirt on (the orange shirt), he now looks kind of pouty.

The simplest things are always an adventure here. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought we had lost power because the bathroom light had burned out. We’ve heard stories about the power being turned off temporarily while the construction projects are going on…we just thought it was our turn. It turns out the bathroom light fixture burned out the bulb, and that tripped something in the fuse box. All the lights in the apartment were not working, but the outlets were. Pete made an emergency run to the Ram store and bought a few new bulbs and with a flip of the switch, we’re now back in business!

We had dinner at the horseback riding restaurant, Toolpa. Jason and Michelle came with their translator, their coordinator, and Dina came with us. So the 7 of us had a late lunch at 3pm. We took a few pictures of all 4 of us at dinner. We had chicken kabob, lamb kabob, and then a stir fry of meat. The stir fry had chicken, beef, and liver. Yep…that’s what I said, it sounded good right up to that last item. They’re bent on some weird foods over here. Jason and his coordinator, Yerican, went shooting…they were gone for just 10-15 minutes…when they came back, Yerican was laughing at what we can only guess could’ve been a lousy shot. Jason wasn’t sure if he hit the target 30 yds. away, but he was happier not knowing…Yerican told him he didn’t hit it. :(

Tomorrow, we won’t have a visit with Jack. Instead we are going shopping and we’ll try to get him some shoes. I think he needs a size 20 (no clue what that would be on American sizing chart). Have a good day!!!!

...Raspberries for Everyone

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Outside Again! 2 days in a row…he was so bundled up, he was immobile. He had on a heavy duty snowsuit, like insulated fleece, 2 pairs of pants, a sweatshirt and a t-shirt, a scarf, and a hat…to put this in perspective I am wearing a cotton shirt with a sweater and I was perfectly warm. He never likes being outside this bundled up…I don’t blame him, it’s like all the crap I have to wear when I go skiing…the whole time you’re putting it all on your wondering "why is this fun"? He finally started to fall asleep while we were walking him around, I think this was his ploy, he knew we would take him back inside if we asleep. It worked like a charm…instantly he came to life with the removal of all the layers. The music room was also boiling, so we let him wear only his diaper and a t-shirt for a while.

Once the morning haze burnt off, it warmed up here to about 70 degrees this afternoon. They are starting to redo the flower beds and spring cleanup here. They paint the bottom 3 feet of the tree trunks in white paint. They do this for insect control. We’ll try to get a few pictures of those for you tomorrow. I’ve yet to see a real street sweeper piece of equipment, they sweep the streets with little brooms made from twigs and sticks. It’s kind of like shoveling sand against the tide.

We walked to Shymkent for dinner, and then no excursion is complete without a trip to the Ram store. We ran into Michelle & Jason there…they were there for the 2nd time today. We also stopped in for a cappuccino at this little Italian pastry place we found across the street from Shymkent. The only new food adventure today was the salad I ordered came with sardines or herring on top…about 6 little fishies…Ewwww!!!! Pete had 2 or 3 of them…I tried one….to restate my earlier comment…Ewwww!!!

Happy Easter for those who won’t be reading over the weekend!!!! I also want to wish a happy Passover as well, although I am at a loss as to exactly when that is. I don’t have a calendar here. Sorry…

...Bundled Up!

04/13: Picture Day!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Well, we had an extraordinary visit today. When we were on our way to the Baby Home, Dina told us that all the morning visits today had been cut short or called off. Our friends Jason & Michelle only had an hour with their little boy because the reporters from a TV station were at the Baby Home today. They are covering a story about a child who was adopted from Kazakhstan by a US family and the child had been raped after they were back to the states. It is sad stories like this that make this process so brutally difficult at times for everyone concerned. The debates start up again about whether to allow children to be adopted…they sometimes temporarily disallow adoptions to take place and children and families get delayed in finding each other. Nobody wins and most especially the child that is actually harmed in the awful situation. Anyway, when we got to Baby Home, the reporters were still there, so we had to wait in the car for a while and since we were due to take Jack for a passport picture, they got him ready for us to take him for a ride, so we were able to have our visit anyway. We first went to the photo place, and then we made a quick stop at a park where we could take him for a little walk outside. By the time we got back to the Baby Home, the reporters had left and we were able to have the last ½ hr of our visit in the music room. Jack wasn’t thrilled with the car ride, although he didn’t cry, and he didn’t like being outside very much either….but back in the music room, he came back to life. We got him out of the 2 layers of clothing and I think he enjoyed having his mobility back. We have a few pictures where he was laughing as I was tickling his belly….he’s got a great belly laugh.

We have successfully identified the right container for cream….however, the coffee doesn’t taste any better than with the milk (that has a life expiration date of 1 yr. from now…yes this is the same milk that is stored warm at the store). So much for our grand discovery.

Tonight we went to dinner at the “good” hamburger place….ehhhh! Burgers and ketchup just aren’t the same here. Ketchup tastes more like bbq sauce than Heinz. This place did have the best desserts though..we split a chocolate pudding that came with an éclair in the middle of it and whipped cream on top. This was the best place we’ve found yet. The desserts always look incredible and then…well, then their made of marshmallow or honey or something…. After that we went for a walk to the fancy mall and looked for shoes for Jack…they wanted 5000 tenge ($40) for the pair I liked …too much since I’m not sure of his size and I don’t want to deal with exchanging them here if possible. We were also looking for a fur hat with earflaps for Pete…these are the style the police officers here wear and Pete wants one…I’m trying to encourage him to get one because I think the kids at school will harass him if he shows up next winter wearing it. They wanted 30,000 tenge for that one ($239).

Ok…I really miss my dryer and a full size washer…I’m constantly doing laundry because you can only fit a minimal amount of items in the washer and also have very limited space to dry things. I actually found a pair of socks that I’ve not worn yet here….ahhh, they were still soft from my dryer at home…

...Belly Laughs

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
We changed it up a bit today. Our visit was in the play room, which is just down the hall from the music room. That room has a ball pit and inflatable castle and pool (minus the water), a few slides, and a couple of colorful medicine balls to roll around on. Jack liked the change. We don’t think he had ever been in this room before. Before we got to the play room, I went to get him from his group nursery again. When I went in there, he was on potty #7…all the little ones were sitting on their own little potties. It warmed my heart to see his excitement when he spotted me looking for him. I felt bad because a few other children started to cry when they saw me. I think he’s coming down with another cold or the cold he had last week has gotten worse. Lots of tissues for the runny nose today. Jack liked bouncing on the inflatable castle…and right next to it there’s a huge mirror…you’ll see a few pictures of him discovering himself in the mirror. I was also able to actually read him those books today, instead of just eating them..that’s progress. Tomorrow we’re going to get his passport picture taken…his first ride in the car (with us anyway). I’m a little bit nervous; they don’t actually have car seats for children here. We just have to get a passport photo taken of him. So we probably won’t be in a car for more than 15 min.

Lunch today was at a great little restaurant called Bu-ha-ra. It’s an Uzbekistan. We finally had lamb kabobs…and those were worth the wait. They also had fabulous bread, we were able to bring a loaf home. The décor was very unusual and each table was very private. They have live music if you go there for dinner…but we were late enough in the afternoon to catch the rehearsal for tonight’s performance.

How many people does it take to find the cream at the grocery store? Well, 4 seems to be the optimal number. Peter and I thought, “we can figure this out”….yeah right…we definitely went for items that were in the dairy case this time…we weren’t even considering the “dairy” items not stored cold. So we went along shaking every carton that looked like it could be cream. We were shaking it to determine the thickness of the contents. If it seemed thin, it probably was milk. After 10 minutes of this we made a decision. This morning, we proudly went to open the carton we picked only to find that the contents no longer even moved in the container. It had somehow become solid….no, we had not stored it in our freezer…like overnight it had turned into sour cream. So today, we dragged Dina into the store to help us…only she doesn’t drink coffee or use cream, so although she can read these cartons with the Cryllic letters all over, she has no idea which item we’re really after…she gets a clerk from the store and she helps to find the cream…we’ll have to let you tomorrow how this mystery turns out. Moving on to the meat/butcher area, we catch a glimpse of a guy in the back swinging an axe to cut up something big and recently alive. I scream out “holy cow” and the whole meat counter is now pointing and laughing at us, while we’re pointing and laughing at what they have going on. Not quite the same shopping experience you might get at Shaw’s or Market Basket. Sorry, we didn’t have the camera for this.

...New Venue

04/11: Meat Gum!!!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Today was a quiet day. I think we got off to an awkward start. Dina and one of the caregivers were talking to each other (in Russian or Kazakh) and that had Jack pretty distracted. The language must have sounded familiar and he was very curious about what was going on over there. He was also kind of fussy. I think he did not have his morning nap again. He was lacking his usual energy. We did have a little extra time with him today and he did stay awake the whole time. He was very tired by the end of our visit and nobody was coming to get him. I walked around with him for a while and just kind of lulled him…I finally decided to bring him back because he really needed a nap. I brought him back to his group and there was only 1 caregiver there looking after the kids…that’s why nobody was coming to get him. I held him for a while in that room while I watched a few other children play and one little one was asleep on a riding toy…very cute 2 fingers in his mouth and he kept nodding back and forth in his sleep to maintain his balance on the toy. I think we’re going to see if we can play in a different room tomorrow…I think a change of scenery may be a good thing to do….if it’s warm enough maybe we could even venture outside again.

We had egg salad for breakfast…we’re running out ideas about things to make for breakfast….I thought it was close enough with the eggs. We must’ve eaten nearly a ½ billion eggs by now…we’re single-handedly keeping a few hens in business. We had our first really awful dinner last night....Pete cooked it. It wasn't his fault. We bought these lamb chop things at the Ram store...they looked like they were stuffed and rolled was really just so much fat on them and then they were they baked the unrolled and were disgusting. We'd still be chewing them now if we had persisted. It was like meat gum.

We met Jason & Michelle at the good hamburger place and then we walked to Shymkent for dinner. They hadn’t eaten there yet…we went without any translators and we did a great job ordering by ourselves. Most of the restaurants we’ve been to have 1 English menu….and you can point and they figure it out. We also found a cappuccino place afterwards…yay!!! My batteries are feeling recharged now…only problem is I won’t sleep tonight…oh well, there’s always tomorrow for that.

...Not Over being Under

04/10: Down Under!!!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Jack was very happy to see us today. I went back to his room to get him for our visit. He seemed excited for me to get him. Yay!!! We played a lot today under the piano and under chairs. Then back to the piano...he really likes to yank on those pedals. He pulled on them so hard he smashed his head right into the piano, the bump was not enough to deter him¡Khe kept on tugging. We also looked at the photo album again, you'll be happy to know he looked with some enthusiasm today; we didn't just eat the corner. I've included the proof in the photo portion of our blog. Peter also tried out the hip hammock we brought (thanks Tracy & Charlotte). We're getting ready for the airport...I don't know who needs to be more prepared, him or us, probably us.

A topic that I have neglected to discuss for far too long is Footwear. That's right I'm talking about Shoes/Boots. It's unbelievable what the women here wear. Very high-heeled shoes and boots...very fashionable, I forget that I am not on Rodeo drive until, well until the next car comes by and it's covered in the most recent puddle. In addition to the high heels, they wear very pointy-toed shoes as well, even the men. I'm just amazed with the amount of walking women do here and the amount of off-road type of terrain they encounter that they can wear shoes that seem so impractical. I actually encountered a man in the lobby of our building, while we were waiting for Baurzhaun, who very obviously was giving me the once over, he started his look at me from the bottom flat shoes apparently didn't meet with his approval, and oh my gosh, the short-hair was probably the icing on the awkward cake for him. Women here do not tend to have short hair...Oh well, these are the things that help me get out of this house at the crack of 11:30 each day. We managed to take a few footwear photos for you today while we were out and about. Enjoy!

Lunch today was at the Oasis restaurant. That was great...a very cozy restaurant. We had Greek Salad and soup for lunch. The Greek salad here was prepared with little cubes of cheese (not Feta), olives, tomatoes, yellow peppers, and cucumbers...delicious. I had chicken noodle soup, Pete had meat soup. The best part of lunch was cappuccino at the end. Ahhhh!!!! my desire for coffee type substance was finally quenched. What time do you open? Not until 11:00am ;(

So another thing that may happen to you while you're out for dinner here is you may get some gum or matches back in lieu of change. If they don't have exact change they may opt to pay you with a pack of gum. This hasn't actually happened to us yet, but it did happen to Dina while we were eating at Shymkent the other day. Dina told us about a day when she was given 2 boxes of matches instead of the exact change...she just continued to hold her hand out and look at the matches and asked if she could come back tomorrow and pay for something with the matches, they replied "No", she said "please keep looking for the correct change then". I like Dina!!! Can you imagine if this went on at the restaurants and stores back home...I think riots would happen!

BTW, after a few people goaded us (you know who you are), we tried the carbonated-milk-juice thing...We have found the worst thing in Kazakhstan yet...this was awful...but it does show that you can put in coffee, so maybe we'll try it that way.

This just in...Pete is making dinner and the Basmati Rice we're having is distributed from a place in Wayland, MA. So much for being exotic!

...Jack's Back

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
We miss Jack! :( No visiting on Sunday. We won’t see him until tomorrow at the regular time 12-2. Tomorrow we’ll find out if he missed us today…I hope he missed us as much as we missed him.

Today we went sight-seeing. We saw where the President of Kazakhstan lives (It’s the white house with blue roof and dome). Astana is the capital of Kaz. There are so many new buildings and construction here it would blow your mind…most of the buildings around the President’s house are less than 3 yrs. old. There are a ton of government buildings and tons of apartments for government employees to live in. We went up inside of a huge tower that overlooked all of the new area of Astana. The tower is called Bayterek or “Tree of Life”. (that's the picture of the tall skinny tower with the ball on top) We took a few pictures from inside of there and you can see a pretty good distance. One of the pictures has a tall yellow building in it and also a smaller museum with a blue roof next to it, which is the area where we are staying. We also went to an aquarium and took a quick trip through. After that we tried to go to a restaurant where you could watch horseback riding (you could also ride a horse there too)….it was too crowded for us to be seated. They don’t seem to wait for a table here, so we moved on and went back to my favorite restaurant, Shymkent. (We are totally stuffed and yawning a lot while typing today’s blog. Well…I’m yawning a lot, Pete is actually asleep on the couch!! ) Baurzhaun was pulled over twice today by the police. He was not speeding or doing anything wrong that we could see. The first time was near the President’s house…the police officers actually stand in the streets and wave a striped baton at you when they want to you over to the side of the road. The 2nd time it happened we were on our way out of the new capital district. All was well both times.

Still haven't tried horse meat or the carbonated milk-juice thing...

...Astana Sites

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Well, I think we’re not the only ones getting worn out…our little guy fell fast asleep about 10 minutes into our visit. He was a little fussy and while I was talking to another woman and her husband from Chicago, Jack Medet fell asleep in my arms. We let him sleep for about 30 min. and then Dina told us we better wake him up because his whole schedule will get out whack with the rest of his group. It was the first time we’ve seen him sleeping and since he fell asleep in my arms so we couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures. (By the way, the other reason I think I am so worn out...I haven't had a good cup of coffee since my last day of work at Java Mama's in Westford on 3/30....ahhh, it makes me feel good to recall it now.)
When we woke him up, he came right to life and we had a long time playing today. We knocked over chairs, we crawled, we drank lots of water, and we ate lots of books. We sat in the movie-theatre seats in the back of the music room. We’re practicing for sitting in airline seats on the way home.

It’s cold here today and it snowed last night…just a dusting, but it hasn’t really warmed up again like we thought it might. We’ve seen a car accident just about everyday since we’ve been here…today we saw 2 dump trucks that had an accident…that mess was stuck in the intersection for several hours. Driving here is crazy. Sometimes it’s just 2 lanes in either direction, sometimes it’s 4 because everybody races to the next light and cuts off everyone else. Funny thing is no one seems to mind here. In Massachusetts, these events would lead to much swearing, fist-shaking, and road rage. There’s really no regard for pedestrians…cross the street at your own risk. We’ve crossed a big street once…and we waited a good 5-10 minutes for other people to cross the street first and then we hurried to follow them through the maze of cars to get across.

After our visit today we went cosmic bowling with Michelle & Jason and their translator Aynura. Their translator is very nice and she’s about 26 yrs. old, she likes to dance and bowl. We had fun; Jason won both strings. Bowling was with the big balls, only 2 balls per box. Totally hands off bowling, it automatically kept score for us and reset the pins after your turn. (The picture of the baby lying in the play room is Wyatt, that’s Jason and Michelle’s little boy, he is 7 mos. old.)

We tried the milk that isn’t stored cold at the grocery store. It’s a little chalky but it wasn’t bad with the cheerios. They do have cheerios here. We also had strawberries and bananas with the cereal. Strawberries are pretty expensive here, $5 for 1 pint. They didn’t have them at the store when we went yesterday…at that price it’s probably just as well. We also tried the birch juice…that’s like sugar water. It’s good, but I’m not sure what’s so special about it. As for the carbonated-milk-juice thing…maybe tomorrow.

I’m not sure what we’re going to do on our first Saturday night here in Astana, but we’ve already watched a bunch of Mary Tyler Moore episodes and now both the Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy dvds. We only have 3 movies left to watch and a few more MTMs. I think we should’ve brought more dvds to watch. We are watching TV in Russian however, Pete is way too addicted to the TV set not to watch it even if he has no clue what they are talking about. They have Scrubs in Russian, The Simpsons in Russian, Russian MTV, and Hit TV. We are getting caught up in music videos. They do listen to a lot of music here, some of which is in English along with Russian, and maybe Kazakh. Britney Spears is big here.

No visits at the Baby Home on Sunday, so we’ll have to wait until Monday to visit Jack again. We will go sight-seeing and maybe horseback riding instead. Although, I’m just now thinking…that could mean the end of a pair of shoes…hmmm.


Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Yay!!! The hot water is back. The weather turned cold today. It’s back in the 40’s and it’s been raining and spitting snow. Kind of dreary and we’re both kind of dragging this afternoon. We’ve both felt like this between 3-6 in the afternoon most days this week….it could be because we’re not use to playing with a 9 month old, but I think it’s more because our bodies still think it’s the middle of the night. We’re both not sleeping as well as we were at the beginning of the week, I think that’s because the 2 twin beds pushed together isn’t really so comfortable.

Our visit got off to a late start by just a few minutes…we had the music room to ourselves to play anywhere and that we did. Jack found out he could actually just knock over all of those chairs. He rode the stuffed camel in the room. He was a little bummed, when we took the books away, he’s eaten them so much that they are now disintegrating and the red book is white in spots. Yeeeeckkkk!!! He was a little fussy today; “Mom told me there would be days like these”. (I think when I was a little, I caused most of these days for her.) We took a few pictures of the view from the Baby Home. Since Jack’s room is right next to the music room, these pictures would be the view from his room if you look outside.

We went back to the Ram store for more provisions. We’re going to try some birch juice and also something that is a cross between juice and carbonated milk. Sounds gross right? That’s what I thought, so we only bought a small bottle…we haven’t tried it yet…we’re going to stare it down for a while. We also bought some oven cleaner…Pete just cleaned our oven and found out how to light it…now we can make brownies!!! We brought a mix from home; we were warned they don’t have those here. We also needed to buy a pan to cook them in and a spatula.

I also wanted to make a special Birthday wish to Brianna Rose Best today…Happy Birthday!!!! We love you and we’re thinking of you and hope you’re having a great day.

Ok and now something Michael Ivancic has been waiting for…PS2 Need for Speed Most Wanted Update…Uncle Pete continues to beat me in his newly revitalized career as “Zippy”. I haven’t been racing so much…I guess I’ve moved on. (No, not really, I’m just out of money in the game. Shhhh!!!!)

Sorry this is a shorter post compared to the other days, but I’m wiped out.

...and down they go

04/06: Cold Start!!!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Well, we found out what the bucket in the bathtub is used for today. Apparently hot water doesn’t happen every day here in Astana. We were making breakfast and noticed that when the faucet was all the way to the left (hot water), there was no water. Not like back home where it would just be cold water instead of no water. Good thing we got an early start on getting ready because we realized this and we boiled some water to wash up with. Actually showering here is a bit different anyway, an old style faucet that is between the bathtub and the sink. The faucet swivels to each fixture depending on what you’re in the mood for. There is a showerhead, but it does not hang anywhere…it’s the Deluxe Manual edition. If you hold it really high above, it’s deluxe…otherwise it’s just manual. When Baurzhan arrived to take us to the Baby Home we mentioned the water problem and he told us it usually happens 1 day or month you may not have hot water….Thank God!!! We thought our laundry episode from yesterday ran them dry.

He claps, he waves, he goes outside…he hated going outside! Ok, you’ll see when you get to the pictures (if you’re patient enough to read all of this blog first) that he was dressed so warmly in a thick (I’m talking “I can’t put my arms down” thick) snowsuit. He hated being stuffed in it, and I hated to stuff him it, but fresh air is good for him. It was like 60-65 degrees here today. He was animated again today. He seems to really warm up to us and be extremely playful the last hour or so of the visit. The first hour he’s happy, but he just wants to cuddle and play more quietly. The last hour, he’s more up and down and crawling and he really loves to crawl or climb back and forth between Peter and I. It’s really a wonderful feeling when he wants to come back to you. I especially felt good when his caregiver returned to retrieve him from our visit and he didn’t want to go. She actually gave us an extra 15 min. today…I wasn’t bringing him back to his room....come and get him!!! It seems that Jack’s not the only one who had to master the sippy cup today….duh, Mommy put the plastic thingy inside backwards, so the one-way constraint was flowing the wrong way. Learning much to get down. At the Ram store, we picked up a new toy last night. It’s the doughnut stacker (if you don’t know what that is, you’ll get it when you see the pictures). Only Jack doesn’t want to play with the doughnut part, he wants to play with the tube to stack them on…and he swings it like David Ortiz (there’s my shout out to the Boston crowd).

Call to Duty!!! I changed 3 diapers and got vomited on…for some of you this may be run of the mill…but for others of us, it’s a race to get the wipes and regret for not packing Mommy a backup outfit.

We ate at my favorite new restaurant here in Astana and it’s actually named after another city in Kazakhstan. Shymkent (pronounced shim-kent). It was excellent. We had great lagman soup (homemade udon noodles and beef stew contents) and beef kabobs and Peter also had stuffed tomatoes. I asked if we could go here everyday for the rest of the month. I’ve included a picture of Baurzhan (our driver) and Dina, (our coordinator/ translator), they joined us for lunch. They have been wonderful for getting us around and making this trip pleasant.

P.S. The picture of the white Camry from yesterday is "the" cleanest car in Kazakhstan and we forget to say anything about in case you were wondering what that was all you know the rest of the story.

...Swing Batta

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
Today’s visit was back in the music room. We also met the other family from Kentucky there. They were just finishing their visit when we were arriving to start ours. Jack was very animated today. He babbled, giggled, and climbed…we almost got a picture of him pulling himself up on the piano…he can lift himself off the floor like a pull-up…we weren’t fast enough with the camera to capture that. We’re having fun learning his facial expressions…today was the first time he really cried and it only lasted for a minute…not quite sure what the problem was but it seemed to pass quickly. He also sucks his bottom lip when he’s unsure of what’s going on around him…thankfully we haven’t seen that face too much since the first day. We also decided to find out what his bottle skills are…so we still don’t really know about whether he uses a bottle or not (he does not get formula). We did try a sippy cup…I don’t think he’s used a sippy cup before, he didn’t seem to know what to do with it…so we showed him. He caught on pretty quick, but it still seemed to go better by just giving him a cup without the lid…I think the kids here commonly drink that way from an early age. As promised, he did seem to have more interest in looking at some pictures today.

Today was laundry day here at the apartment…what’s the big deal? Well, the washer is very teeny…4 things and it’s full. The instructions on the front of it are in Italian and in Russian…so we may need to consult to find out how to do some laundry. We had no clue what we were doing, so the first load finished up in just under 2 hrs. There isn’t a dryer (apparently no one has them here)…so all the wash gets hung to dry….tomorrow we’ll find out just how stiff the underwear gets. We had to leave the washer running to leave for our visit with Jack…which forced to lose 3 hrs. of prime drying time. So where do things dry…we have a huge drying rack in the apartment…and indoors is so hot here. We just leave the window open in the bedroom all the time…nice breeze coming through…with a little bit of dust of course. It’s very dry and windy here…mud dries up nicely into dust.

We met the couple from Kentucky for dinner. We met them at the Ram store and then walked down the river. We took some pictures on our way to the Ram store and along the river on our way to the “fancy” mall where we had some pizza and beer with Jason & Michelle. It’s called the fancy mall, because it’s very expensive…lots of jewelry stores and Needless Markup…err..I mean Neman Marcus type stores.

Hi everyone this is Pete checking in. Jenn has done a wonderful job of blogging but she said I had to do my part. First, visiting with Jack is phenomenal we really do have a great little guy on our hands. He is everything we could have hoped for and we are extremely grateful to everyone that helped us get here. We are anxiously awaiting word on a second child and keeping our fingers crossed. Second this is a very livable city if you can get by the mud!! This place is like the biggest construction project you have ever seen there are cranes all over the place and every other truck on the street is a cement mixer. They are ripping up all the old buildings and putting up huge apartment buildings. It is very unusual to see a very modest house with an out house next to a brand new twenty floor building! Also they don’t have any parking lots you just get as close to the store as possible and stop the car and get out, then when you leave it may take five minutes to just back up because your car is now buried by another couple of cars. Driving is definitely for only professionals here and we are thankful to have Baurzhan at the wheel when we go out. It seems that being a driver is a regular occupation over here. Finally our coordinator Dina has been a great help also, she is working her way through the government channels for us, which no one could do on their own. She has also been a wonderful hostess taking us to some great restaurants; I think the food has been way better than expected. Anyway that’s all for now, time for bed and to see what tricks Jack has in store for us tomorrow.

...Just Jack

04/04: Harmony!

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
We had our visit in the music room today, so there wasn’t a big conference table for him to crawl around and climb under. We took a look at some photo albums and started to introduce him to his new grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was kind of more interested in eating the corner of the photo album….Sorry guys…I’m sure tomorrow he’ll be more interested in the pictures. Jack is very big and strong...he got a hold of my glasses was quite a challenge to get them back.

We tried some clothes on Jack today…he does fit into the 9 mos. clothing we brought…but that might last just through the week. Man, they dress the children in tons of layers here. He had on a sweatshirt, a t-shirt, and an undershirt. Ummm, it was also like 85 degrees inside the music room today. This little boy was sweating up a storm. Kazakhstan believes in bundling their children up…jury’s still out on whether we may have to buy him a snowsuit to bring him home in May.

We found out some more info today about Jack’s eating and sleeping habits. He’s usually (along with the other children) up around 6 am and the children are all washed and dressed and then they have breakfast at 8. He normally eats a rice cereal breakfast with a cup of tea (served warm not hot) and then a fruit snack around 10. He sleeps from 10 to 11:30 and then they give him lunch which is soup with mashed potatoes in it, and a steamed beef cutlet. (By the way, those are 2 little teeth coming in on the bottom). He’s now visiting with us from 12-2 and then he goes down for another nap 2-4. He eats a lighter meal for dinner and is in bed for the night at 6:30.

The food is very heavy here. We’ve eaten at the same Russian restaurant twice now for lunch. It’s ok, but they seem to really like to cook with a lot of onions…I’m not a huge fan of onions, and I’m talking about more onions than you can just pick out of something and enjoy the rest of it. Lunch is the big meal of the day here…not dinner. So tonight we’re having PB&Js!!!!! Thank Goodness for Dina...we really wouldn't be able to get around without a translator....maybe in a few weeks we may feel more confident. There is another American couple here that we’ve met. They are from Lexington, KY. They’re very nice and I hope we can catch up with them for dinner one evening…they’ve been here a little longer…maybe they know how to order in Russian or Kazakh?

Pete has done all the cooking so far…I know, I know…what’s new about that?? Well, this morning he made us eggs and toast for breakfast. They came out great…but he did have to cook the toast by holding it over the burner on our gas stove…like toasting marshmallows…so much for a simple toast breakfast. Grocery shopping is pretty easy, the labels are all in Russian, some in English, but many labels you would recognize from the US, so even if it’s in a different language, you know what it is. One weird thing is the milk comes in a container and it’s not stored cold in the grocery store…but the spaghetti sauce is stored in dairy coolers….What’s Up with that? We haven’t tried the milk yet, but you can be assured, it is in the refrigerator at our apartment. The cream for our coffee comes in a can…I think it really is a can of condensed milk but I’ll need to take a closer look at the Cyrillic alphabet in order to confirm that suspicion.

Astana is big city with apartment buildings everywhere...hardly any houses...all apartments. It's extremely muddy here..the first few days were unusually warm and it was sunny...and it is raining and the streets just turn to mud...even on city streets and sidewalks. There is a ton of construction happening everywhere buildings going up, old coming down. The pictures of the muddy playground is the view from our apartment window. Apartments are nicer on the inside (see the previous post) than they appear on the outside.

...what you've all been waiting for

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
So we woke up today like any other day…yeah, right!!!! We had an appt. to be at the Baby Home for 10. Baurzhaun, our driver, picked us up at 9:40 am and true to form we were hurried getting out of the appt. At the last minute, we quickly threw together everything that we’ve planned to bring for months and left the final touch ups (lipstick) to do in the car (well, not Pete or Baurzhaun…just Jenn)…we made it there in time….to wait. We waited outside of the Baby Home for a while and we met another couple that I had contacted before from the yahoo group. They were out for a stroll with their 7 month old son. (It’s unusually warm here for the last few days..YIPEEEE…very mild like 50’s). We then met Dina and went into the Baby Home together. We had to wait outside the front door until someone brought us some blue booties to wear while inside. We then made our way to see Alma, the Orphanage Director. She was very curious about our family photo albums and she asked lots of questions about who were the different people and what places were these taken.

Then came more waiting…we waited in a conference by ourselves for about ½ hr while Jack Medet (pronounced Med-yet) was finishing his first nap and a little lunch. Every noise from the hall made us stir thinking he was coming. One of his caregivers finally brought him into the conference room and although he was shy at first, he didn’t mind letting us hold him. He’s absolutely beautiful, wonderful and he’s so much fun. He’s very strong and he can pull himself up to stand while holding on to furniture. It was amazing. He has a very strong grip and he could nearly pull himself on to the conf. table (like a pull up)…WOW!!!! He crawls and is very active.

We will get to visit Jack everyday except Sundays from 2-4 pm. Tomorrow we’ll try on some clothes to see what size he wears, but I think the stuff we have for 9 mos. will be too small...think BIG!!!!

Jack - For Real

Category: Jack
Posted by: jenn
We made in one piece or 8 pieces if you include our 6 pieces of luggage plus Pete and me. (Amazingly the 2 drivers that picked us up were mighty resourceful in jamming all of our luggage into their cars…right I said cars, no big giant SUV.)

45 hrs. after our departure from Boston, we got off the plane in Astana, Kazakhstan. The flight on Friday to Frankfurt was good but Oh Man!, we were dazed and confused getting off that flight…we were served both dinner and breakfast all on the same flight. We watched it rapidly become night and faster than that it was morning in Frankfurt…everyone else in the airport was having coffee, Pete and I opted to have a beer…that suited us fine while we were playing some cribbage hanging out for 6 hrs. in Frankfurt…2 laps around the cribbage board (Jenn winning), the game had to end…we were having problems counting (and noooo…that’s not why I won). We discovered these lounge chairs in the airport that you could hang out and sleep on. People look completely homeless on them, us included. We slept with one hand on all of our stuff. We managed to get a few hours of sleep...well….our eyes were shut anyway. The constant foot traffic and flight announcements made actual sleep fairly impossible. We finally got underway from Frankfurt to Almaty around 2:30 pm. We landed in Almaty (a few time zones further east of Frankfurt) at 1:00am. We stayed at a very scary little hotel which was mostly scary because we arrived there at 3 AM and there were tons of men just hanging around. We barricaded ourselves in our room (all luggage in front of the door) and slept well. The next day Evgeny, the same driver, picked us up again and took us to the airport to catch our flight to Astana. That was the best flight…only 1 ½ hrs and the roomiest seats. We got settled into our apartment and made a trip to the Ram store (Kazakhstan Wal-mart….smaller but has everything) with Dina, our coordinator/translator. Thank God for Dina…getting around without her would be very difficult. Well, we’re off to bed so we can be bright-eyed to meet our son in the morning.

Kaz Lodging