Tuesday, July 12, 2005

July 12th

Today starts with laundry @ 7:30 - actually, Alli gets up to do laundry and I lounge until about 8:15. I help wring out the last few things before Alli switches the tub over from washing machine to shower. She has agreed to help Cate with her PC this morning @ 10 and then has a manicure appointment @ 11 (following Beth's 10). If you're keeping score at home, that's two manicures, two pedicures and one full body massage in five weeks. So much for our tough living conditions.

I head for the park @ 10 to read and enjoy the brilliant sunshine on a crisp, clear morning. Bob stops by around 11: He's reading/studying a book on estate planning. He moves from bench to bench several times in an effort to stay awake....

After reading, I visit the pastry place we went to after court last Friday and get two cherry turnovers and two lemon & raisin pastries. The cherry are still warm! Next stop: fruit vendor for bananas. Almost all the vendors we've patronized do calculations on calculators and after telling us the price in Russian show us the calculator. My produce woman calculates the price and says it to me while bagging the bananas. She looks up to see me standing there with that
"I have no idea what you just said" look on my face and repeats the price. Using hand signals, I ask her to show me the calculator. She laughs and shows me the price, then laughs again when I accept my change and say thank you in Russian. I return to the hotel @ 11:45, enough time to shower and shave and eat my cherry turnover. Alli gets back at noon and has time for her turnover and a glass of juice before Bob & Beth knock at 12:15.

Our new friends are waiting for us on our way to the baby home. Papa is walking home from the store just ahead of us and Mama comes toward us to say hello. There are several new faces today, including three teenage boys. Bob shows everyone the photo from yesterday in his camera. They are very pleased to see themselves - Olesya told us they might never have seen digital camera technology before - but Mama makes it plain she'd like to have a copy to hold in her hand. One of the young boys speaks a few words of English: He asks where we are going. Still nervous about revealing the true nature of our visit to Kazakhstan, I tell him we have some business a few kilometers farther and that we walk back and forth every day. He nods and says, "I watch you every day." I ask if the woman is his grandmother: I'm not certain he understood the word, but he says no. We say our goodbyes and tell them we'll see them again later.

The kids are outside today. Alli goes for Molly, who is being fed when Alli arrives. Alli reports she sits opposite Molly while she is being fed, and Molly never takes her eyes off of Alli. Aidan has been fed and dressed and is waiting in his crib. He and I go next door to wait while Alli diapers and dresses Molly. We head for the marble room, and Aidan spits up down the front of my shirt and shorts as we walk through the door. Not ten minutes later, I'm not yet dry from round one when he lets me have it again. Other than that, both kids are pleasant and playful today. Molly continues her recent trend: Her favorite toy is whatever Aidan is playing with at the moment, so long as it is within reach. (Over the last two days, we've experimented with moving her toys out of arms reach in an attempt to encourage her to crawl. Yesterday, she seemed confused. Today, she gets pissed. There's much yelling and arm waving. We'll try again another day....). Aidan is happiest playing in Daddy's lap - he's on a quest to get a hold of my glasses, and he usually gets his little face THIS close to mine before making a stab for them, giving me sufficient time to ward off his advance - or with Mommy's necklace, which he's taken to teething on recently. When he tires of both activities, I pack him in the Snuggli and we take a walk outside.

Back in the marble room @ 2:30, Alli takes Aidan out of the Snuggli, and he's nearly asleep on her shoulder in the time it takes me to put the Snuggli away and finish packing the toys. He's sound asleep on my shoulder in the 60 seconds it takes to walk back to his inside room. He stirs slightly when I move him from shoulder to crib....

On the way home, we walk through an apartment building courtyard. Six young boys who just said hello to us on the way through earlier come running over for more English. One asks where we are from: He seems unfamiliar with Philadelphia but brightens when we tell him it's near New York. In Russian, Alli asks him his name ("Kak vas sa vut?"). He's surprised to hear one of us speak Russian. He says his name, then in Russian I say, "Minya sa vut Pat," and shake his hand. Bob introduces himself and shakes hands, too. One by one, the other boys line up to say their names and shake our hands. One of the boys asks Beth how old she is. She replies, "41," and then asks him the same question. It sounds as if he is parroting her, though closer to forty than forty-one. We ask again, and he makes 13 with his fingers. The other boys range in age from eleven to thirteen. One of them has a soccer ball. Bob and I ask who the best footballer is in the group. It appears they point to the boy with the ball: Either he is the best, or they thought we asked if they had a football. In any event, I motion for him to toss me the ball and dazzle them with a little juggling. We've made another group of new friends....

Later on the same walk home, the crowd at our friends' home has grown once again: Everybody is waiting to get a look at the Americans. The young boys from before have been joined by four older men. There are more photos: Mama with me and Bob, Papa with Alli and Beth. Neighbors drop by, a car pulls up, everybody's gabbing away in Russian and Kazakh and we're smiling a lot. We are now ambassadors of good will....

Back at the hotel @ 3:30, Alli and I head for the internet straight away. Beth and Cate join us there. We read and answer e-mail, and Alli helps Beth save a picture from her camera to a floppy disk so they can make a copy for Mama and Papa. We return to the hotel @ 5 and meet Olesya @ 5:30 for the walk to dinner.

After dinner last night, we took a walk and passed a restaurant with a nice courtyard outside. We noted that we had not been there and agreed it must not be any good if Olesya had not taken us there to date. Our restaurant tonight is the one we were discussing last night: It is good, but she had not thought to take us there prior to tonight (and, in fairness, we have been dining with Dana more often than Olesya, and Dana has not been everywhere Olesay has been). The restaurant is called the Art Cafe: The first floor is an art gallery/gift shop & the second floor is the restaurant, the walls of which are adorned with the painting/print efforts of local artists, some of which are for sale below. We enjoy a nice meal: Bob and I have chicken breast (his in a peach sauce, mine with pineapple and cheese) & the girls have pork (Alli's is a chop with mush-rooms, tomatoes, onions and cheese, Beth's a pork and vegetable shishkabob). Olesya has beef. It's a plce to which we will return.

After walking home, we're in the room at 8:20. Alli cuts my hair while I watch a Dutch Premier League match, then we both have an ice cream bar before settling in to read & journal. Gym in the morning @ 8, and we've arranged to have our rooms cleaned between 9 & 11. Lights out
@ midnight.

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