With nothing on our schedule this morning, we take our time getting going. Alli finally gets up a little after 9, folds the laundry still hanging in the bath- room and gets a shower. I lounge in bed with The Da Vinci Code until 10. We make the bed and dig out the suitcases we brought full of gear for the kids: With passport photos being taken today, we may pick out- fits we'd like them to wear. Molly gets a blue romper with purple flowers and a denim hat to match, while Aidan gets a red & white striped romper with a navy blue ball cap. Outfits selected, suitcases away, Alli
finishes getting dressed and we're off for a nice walk on a beautifully sunny morning in Kostanai. We walk at a leisurely pace enjoying the sights & sounds of the city before sitting on a park bench near the swan and pelican pool to enjoy the sunshine and do a little people watching. It's 11 AM, and the vendors are setting up or already doing business. Folks are eating ice cream, drinking beer and even singing karaoke. We head back to the hotel around 11:30. We must pack our baby home bag, I need to shower & dress and Bob's knee is feeling up to walking today, so we have to be ready by 12:15.
When we arrive at the baby home, the boys are outside and Molly's inside. Alli goes for Aidan and finds him
fed, awake and waiting. Nicholas is still being fed. Afterward, Alli & Beth dress the boys in the clothes we brought with us, and everybody waits by the cars for the trip to the photographer.
Upstairs in Molly's room, she's in the playpen with several other children and she has not been fed. One of the care-givers begins to feed her as Olessya arrives in the room. It appears we are behind schedule
so the care-giver also dresses Molly in her new out- fit. We hurry down to the waiting cars....
The photo shop is back by the hotel, perhaps a ten minute ride by car from the baby home. I don't believe the kids have been outside the walls of the baby home since they were admitted as infants, and I doubt they have any recollection of another car ride.
Molly's on my lap, Aidan on Alli's. Both are quiet, wide-eyed and appear interested in looking around. We can only speculate how they might be processing the bombardment of sensory images they are receiving, including the sound, smell and feel of the car as it moves over bumpy roads and through traffic; the smell and sound of the streets; the countless colors moving by in an endless collage; the brilliant sunshine and cool breeze coming in through the open windows. If I had to guess, they enjoy the experience - but it's only a guess.
At the photo shop, Alli and Aidan go first, Molly and I second. The photographer wants me to hold Molly in a standing position on an office chair, but he does not want my arms or even my hands in the shot if it can be avoided. Molly has become better at standing and, thankfully, more willing to try, but it's not her best skill. Nevertheless, I hold her around the waist with one hand and by her closest leg with the other while reaching around the back of the chair. She props her arm on the top of the chair back, and her eyes never leave the camera. Six quick clicks and we're done.
On the car ride back, Aidan cuddles in Alli's lap and watches Molly until he can't keep his eyes open any longer and falls asleep. Alli thinks the experience was a little overwhelming for him. I have to admit he was pretty fetal before dropping off to sleep. Maybe it will turn out that he's just one of those baby's for whom the motion of the car is sleep-inducing. We will no doubt continue our research upon our return home....
Back in the marble room at 2 PM, Nicholas and Molly play in familiar surroundings while Aidan snoozes away. One of Molly's new things: While sitting on my lap facing me, she pushes on my stomach with her feet and arches her back as if trying to somersault back- ward off my lap. She appears to enjoy being "upside down" if briefly, then righted to a sitting position before being topsy-turvy again. She gurgles and grins her approval.
After our visit, both kids must be changed back into their baby home clothes. The activity awakens Aidan, and Alli reports he seems less sleepy for nap time than he was a short time ago. The care-givers make short work of changing Molly and she goes down with- out a whimper. She has a pacifier in her crib - we had not seen one until yesterday, and she seemed content with her thumb. I lay her down on her back, pop the nook in her gub and kiss her good-bye while patting her back. Sleep appears iminent as I walk away....
We bus back to the hotel with Olessya: She has paper- work for the US Embassy & the Kazakhstan Consulate. Filling out the forms defaults to Beth and me once Olessya makes good handwriting a prerequisite. There are approximately a dozen forms per child, and the information, all of which must be hand-written with- out benefit of any abbreviations, includes: our full names (order varies by form: some first-middle-last, others last-first-middle); the kids' given Russian names and new American names (in order variety as above as well as in English for the US Embassy and Cyrillic for the Kaz. Consulate); our home address and phone number; the dates and locations of our and the kids' births; the date and location of our marriage; and much, much more. The repetition is numbing, but we are under pressure not to make any mistakes lest we start the form(s) over. It's a nerve-wracking ninety minutes of work to complete a set for Molly and another for Aidan.
Dana arrives at 5. Olessya decides to join us for dinner and our party of six heads for the Russian Pub. We have a great time with lots of laughs, the sort of comfortable familiarity one might hope to have after nearly a month of almost daily contact. We are Olessya and Dana's clients and they work very hard for us, but we view them (cling to them almost) as friends and companions in this strange place. And there's the rub: We want very badly to go home, but we must be careful not to suggest to our new friends our urgency has anything to do with dissatisfaction with their efforts (we have none) or unhappiness with their home city/country of which they are so proud.
After dinner, Olessya heads home and we walk 1/2 way with Dana. We're back at the hotel @ 8. Alli reads and I watch soccer: Man United v Arsenal from this Premiership season just past. After the game, I turn back to The Da Vinci Code before closing the night with today's journal entry. Bob and I are hoping to go to the gym at 8 tomorrow morning, and we've got tickets for the soccer match tomorrow night. It's 12:20 AM and time for bed.