Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Flew solo at the gym today: Bob is still suffering from his stomach ailment. The workout isn't the same without ping pong to look forward to, but I enjoy the effort required to get body and sould moving for early morning exercise. Afterward, I asked to be weighed: 76.6 Kilos which, if my conversion is correct (2.2 lbs/kilo), I'm 166 lbs, about 5 lbs lighter than when we left. We are eating well here but sensibly, too. When we eat out, portions are sufficient but not too much, and we supplement meals with snacks of yogurt, fruit and bottled water. Throw in lots of walking and workouts three times per week and I almost can't avoid getting fit!
After working out, I go for a nice long walk while Alli is having her pedicure from 9 to 10:30. (Yes ladies, a ninety minute pedicure, including callous shaving, lotion massage and a bunch of other stuff - my terminology, as I've forgotten most of Alli's long and sensuous description - for about $12 US including tip!) I walk along a number of streets we've taken at different times previously - primarily on walks to lunch or dinner - and it's interesting to find shops and sidewalks, paths and walkways becoming familiar.
I'm back in the hotel around 11. No Alli. I start a journal entry of random observations on our first week in Kostanai. It's hard to believe it has been 10 days since we left home and one week since we landed in Kostanai and saw the kids for the first time. If I get through my entry while still in the vacinity of the first week, I'll post it to the Blog.
A couple of notes on the Blog. We are trying to capture and share details of a very unique and personal experience in a very public forum. We are doing so while living through and trying to process a whole new spectrum of emotions. Consequently, we must be somewhat guarded when discussing our feelings: There will be plenty of time for more intimate details after we arrive home, assuming we have everything sorted out by then.
In addition, there are factual, procedural and other issues we are simpy not permitted to reveal and we must abide by these constraints, particularly regarding our visits to the baby home. Please understand: We have come too far to risk anything now.
The above having been said, let me close this thought with the following, which I hope I've mentioned previously: Alli and I really enjoy sharing everything we can with all of you. We work on our journals every day and use them to create our postings. Your responses have been so rewarding, inspiring, reassuring, sustaining, encouraging - all of the above - that a highlight of each day for us is checking to see from whom we've heard and what they had to say. Please, continue to enjoy the Blog and please continue to send your thoughts and prayers our way, either through comments to the Blog or, more personally if you wish, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will try to answer everything received via the latter if we have the time and if we have your e-mail address.
Whew! Another long-winded tangent. Anyway, back to today....
Still no Alli at 11:30, so I go down the hall to check on Bob. He tells me Alli decided to wait for Beth to finish up a little after 12, and he has good news: He feels well enough to join us for today's visit with the kids. I know he felt as bad about missing yesterday's visit as he did from his stomach misery. He's not up to walking, so we hire a car. The girls are back by 12:15 and we're off to the baby home at 12:45.
The kids are outside again: Alli goes for Molly and the rest of us head for the boys. I settle in to feed Aidan; Bob, who hasn't been able to think of food without unpleasant gastric consequences for nearly 36 hours defers to Beth for today's meal: ground beef mixed with apple sauce and the requisite shot of broth. Aidan winces on the very first bite, rolls it on his tongue for a few seconds and spits it back at me. He does greater damage to himself than to me, but I quickly call for the care-giver - "Mama Natasha", honest - who cleans him up, changes him and hands him back. She also signs to me that lunch is over, which is fine with me and, from the way he giggles madly while getting his onesie changed, fine with my boy, too. (NOTE: We found out later that our effort to ask whether the children had been fed - they had - had been interpreted by the care-givers as a request to feed them again. No wonder none of the three ate much of anything on round two.)
We go inside again today: We enjoy the kids more there, and neither they nor Bob in his condition has to contend with the brilliant sunshine. All three are a little out of sorts - we also find out later they had been to the doctor for a check-up related to the ongoing and, we hope, impending adoptions. Aidan is content to crawl or stand but wants nothing to do with sitting on a lap or bouncing on a knee. He tumbles face first into some small wooden blocks while on a crawling maneuver, and we decide we need a little shoulder time with Dad and a walk around the hallways. He's out cold in ten minutes and stays that way from 1:45 to 2:30. (Our earlier directive not to permit the kids to sleep during the visit was countermanded the following day.) He actually snores in my lap before Alli takes over for the final twenty minutes.
By 2:15, Molly is rubbing her eyes, tugging at her ears and giving her thumb everything she's got. Thirty seconds on Dad's shoulder and she's out too. Poor thing: She cycles through three to four minutes of sleep interrupted by a cough and change of position at least three times before settling contentedly - and sweating profusely - sprawled across my stomach with her head right over my heart. What a moment!
It's a quiet ride home. The effort to shower, dress and join us today has taxed Bob. We discuss going to get money changed near the hotel - rates are better early-to-mid-week than on the weekends - but Bob begs off and opts for a nap. Beth, Alli and I have to make two stops - the first did not have enough local currency to complete our transactions (at least that's what we think they were saying) - and we get 134 Tenghe to the dollar, our best rate yet.
Off to the internet caffe. We check mail - Wow! So many great notes! - and then I send a note to our pediatrician asking her to review the medical records we received last week. Alli updates the blog and we're off line a little after 5:30.
We decide to stroll through the park and get a beer from a vendor. The beers are way too warm for my taste - Note to self: Learn Russian word for cold - but we enjoy them anyway while watching children play near the fountain where the swans and pelican live and listening to competing karaoke "performers." Kazakh people LOVE karaoke!
Olessya stops by around 6:30 to review the gifts we've brought for the various public officials who customarily receive them: eight in all, six for women and two for men. At our request, she hepls select from our various offerings those she thinks appropriate for specific individuals. (his is an important aspect to the process, and we appreciate her assistance!)
At 7, we - us, Beth, Mary Ellen and Olessya - walk to "The Mushroom Soup Place" - once again not its Russian name but a more familiar-sounding moniker passed along from group to group through Olessya. We ask for and receive outdoor seating in a large courtyard behind the restaurant. Salads all around - Alli is thrilled to have found a beet salad again - and three of the four girls get the famous soup. Various chicken entrees and cold beer! Another fine meal.
Afterward, we walk through a new area of the city. Our discussion ay dinner included the railway system, so Olessya shows us the local - and very modern looking - railway station. On the way, we pass the her boyfriend's mother's apartment - where Olessya is staying while her own is remodeled - one of the city's four steam processing plants - remember, steam heats the entire city in the winter - and a brand new indoor swimming facility - there is no outdoor swimming in Kostanai, we are told.
We bus back to the hotel after leaving Olessya at the train station and promising to call her when we are safely in the hotel. Though it is still light out, she is fearful it might be dark before we made it all the way home walking, so she insists on the bus. Even then, she will be nervous for us until she is sure we've made it home.
Soccer tonight: Brazil v Switzerland (in what is, I now know, the World Youth Tournament in Holland, not an under-23 competition as I had previously thought) and a Russian pro league match. All play-by-play is in Russian, so unless the game is of particular interest, I just write in my journal and look up when the crowd roars or the announcers start to yell.
Just after 1:00 AM now. I have to wak Alli and make sure she brushes her teeth and takes her contacts out: She's been "reading" with the book in her lap for the last hour and a half....