Breakfast arrives at 8:00am. We eat and shower. We've volunteered to watch Sasha and Toby for an hour or so while Beth I makes her last trip to the baby home to pick up her 1 year old daughter Svetlana (Lana). They leave today for Almaty. They hope to leave for home on Friday. Beth I has been in Kostanai for 8 weeks. We pray that our stay won't be as long but only time will tell. We're glad that we have planned to stay for the duration. It's hard enough to leave Molly and Aidan each day. We can't imagine leaving the country without them.
Babysitting goes smoothly. I give the boys a banana for a snack. Pat hides behind a door and jumps out when the boys pass by. The room is filled with the laughter of little boys (and one big boy). Beth I returns with Lana. She is adorable. Dana has also arrived. We will take a bus to the open air market. Only Pat, Beth and I will be going. Bob woke up this morning with a nasty stomach bug caused most likely by something he ate or drank. He is down for the count. We've all tried to be careful and watch what we eat and drink. Odds are that we will all encounter a fate similar to Bob's during our stay. We'll cross our fingers.
The open air market is large and has many vendors selling clothes, fabric, shoes, rugs, knick-knacks and the likes. Althought I've never been, it has been described by others to resemble Rice's market in NJ. We mostly browse this first trip. I buy a Russian stacking doll for Molly. Dana inquires about pricing on a few items we're interested in. We're just looking for now. We'll have a better idea of what disposable income we have after we're here a few weeks. The good news is the there are cash machines here and we've seen signs for Western Union so we don't have to worry too much. We finish our shopping and take the bus back to the hotel. There we meet Olessya, Mary Ellen, Beth I, Sasha, Lana and Toby. Beth goes to her room to check on Bob. She reports back that he's been able to drink some apple juice. We all agree that this is a good sign. We walk to the restaurant for lunch. I have steamed dumplings (filled with ground beef and onions) with sour cream. They are delicious. We're running late after lunch and will take the bus to the baby home.
We arrive at the baby home and find the children outside in their outdoor rooms (we'll take pictures of these to bring home). Pat goes for Molly (Room 11) and Beth and I go for the boys (Room 12). The boys have not eaten yet so we will feed them. Aidan is in his crib looking drowsy. I pick him up and hug and kiss him. He is not quite awake. I wash my hands in the outdoor sink, put on his bib and sit down to feed him. Mama Natasha is there and Beth and I are nervous. Aidan is not really interested in eating at first. I try my best but soon his face, bib and neck are covered with his lunch. Beth is almost finished feeding Nicholas and Aidan still has half of his lunch left. I'm afraid that Mama Natasha will have to intervene and I begin to sweat. Aidan must have know because he begins to eat heartily and his plate is soon clean. He drinks all of his juice. He is such a sweet boy. I wash his face, neck, arms and hands. We're ready to go. Pat returns with Molly. She is bundled today. We head to the marble room. As soon as we arrive we strip the kids down to their onsies. Molly is chatty as usual. She really is a happy baby. She love to play with (eat) her toys. We help her stand to strengthen her ham hocks, I mean legs. Aidan is wide awake. He scoots around on the floor, sits and plays with toys, babbles, smiles and giggles. No one falls asleep. Olessya stops in so we can sign the book. The book is a record of our visitation. After the 14th day of visitation Olessya can apply for a court date. We find out that we will go to court twice. Once for a preliminary hearing and once for the actual hearing. Soon it is 2:30 and we dress the kids and take them back to their rooms. We kiss them, say goodbye and leave reluctantly. We walk back to the hotel. Olessya leaves from the baby home to take Beth I and Co. to the airport. We said our goodbyes earlier in the day. We will see them again. This experience creates a lasting bond. We've made arrangements to meet at 6:00 for dinner. We spend a few hours at the Internet cafe checking email (Tanks to everyone who has commented on the Blog or sent email. We cherish our contact with home.) and updating the Blog. We arrive back at the hotel at 5:55pm. Just in time for dinner.
Dinner this evening is at a place called Baron Munchausen. It is a German style restaurant complete with the head of a stuffed wild boar mounted on the wall. Our beer (Baltika 7) is served in a stein. I opted for just salad and soup. They have great salads here. Not the typical lettuce and vegetable salads we're used to. Many interesting combinations. My salad tonight has apples, cheese and almond slivers in a yogurt sauce with a hint of lemon. Very tasty. The group seems small. There are only five of us. Mary Ellen's husband Brian arrives on Friday (they live on a horse farm in Dover, DE). The will be leaving with their 2 1/2 year old daughter Sabina on Tuesday. The will go to Almaty and then back to the states on Friday. This seems to be the norm. After dinner we go to the Gros and get some ice cream. We arrive back at the hotel at 8:00pm. I've been writing ever since. It's nearly 10:00. Olessya will meet me at the hotel tomorrow at 8:50 to take me to my 9:00 pedicure.