Monday, July 18, 2005

July 18th

Bob and I head to the gym at 8: We're the first ones there and few others join us in the first hour. It's very quiet and purposeful: The only sounds are the clanging of free weights, the clicking of the universal-type weight machines, the skipping of the jump rope and the occasional grunt of exertion. We're playing ping-pong by 9:10 and we have some extra time today, as the girls are walking to Victory Park and back and plan to return to the hotel @ 10:30. We play 13 games and Bob takes the day 8-5, widening his series lead to 75-63. I'm playing better, but he continues to play patiently and very well, and making up ground will be difficult.

Alli & Beth make a detour to the pastry shop, and there's fresh cherry pastry when we get back! Olesya is coming @ noon - she and the girls are going to buy flowers for Dr. Irina, who celebrated her 55th birthday over the weekned. Bob and I walk to the baby home and visit with our friends along the way. We give them a new photo - just Mama and Papa - and show Mama the photo of the little boy with his dog. She gets very animated, points next door as if to say she will go see if he is home and - as best she can at 75 - runs over to knock at the gate. Two young girls answer the knock: Apparently he is not home yet again. I give them the photo and Bob asks to have his picture taken with them. Another girl walks over, and when they see the first photo, they ask if we'll take a picture of the three girls. No sooner is that done than grandmother emerges from the gate and we take a photo of the three girls and grandmother. It's a simple thing to do and has given so many people so much joy....

At the baby home, Bob and I go to Dr. Irina's new office - she is in the process of moving from a second floor location to one just inside the main entrance. She took us on a tour of the new office last week and mentioned the larger space will allow her to entertain guests more comfortably, while her window overlooking the front door will allow her to see everyone coming & going. The girls agreed the best feature is the private bath (with shower stall): Dr. Irina related how on those occasions when many are in line to use the facilities - remember the entire medical and care-giver staff is women - her rank as head doctor affords her no privilege. Now, she will stand in line no more!

Anyway, she's not in the new office so we go outside to get the boys. we arrive to find them both being fed. Nicholas is done first, then changed and handed to Bob. While Aidan is being dressed, Alli comes by to say Dr. Irina would like us to join her (in her old office - who knew?) for champagne. I give Aidan to Alli, she and Bob go ahead and I go for Molly. She, too, is being fed, so when she is diapered and dressed, we join the party. In addition to champagne (and bottled water for Dr. Irina - she's diabetic and doesn't drink - and Olesya - very pregnant and will not drink in front of the doctor) there are candies and cookies. There was singing before I arrived and several nice toasts after, including

Dr. Irina drinks to us and to our children and expresses her hope that we have had a good experience here and will go home and tell others the good things about adoptiong in Kostanai, as she is afraid too many people go home and have only bad things to say.
Dr. Irina drinks again to us and our children, wishing us the best of health, success and money and all the good things in life.
Olesya drinks to Dr. Irina. Clearly she admires the doctor, and they enjoy a special relationship involving mutual professional respect & real friendship.
Ever the charmer, I wish the doctor a happy 29th birthday!
Always a lady, Molly contributes a resounding belch!

The kids are pretty good througout: Aidan talks happily to the coat rack, Nicholas gums a cookie into submission and Molly takes a keen interest in my champagne.

We adjourn to the marble room for a great visit. Molly is becoming increasingly mobile: She goes from belly to sitting and back to belly, moving around the room unconventionally but effectively. I don't know that she has a route or specific itinerary, but she's no longer confined to a specific spot on the floor. Today she rolls herself into a corner where the sofa meets one of the chairs. She complains loudly - and comically - while Dad videotapes and Mom encourages her from off camera. Molly manages to reach a toy, then rolls onto her back and winds up between the sofa cushions and the floor. We get her unstuck and seated in the middle of the floor where she protests her ill treatment and, in mid-complaint, shoves a football in her mouth. The videotape is hilarious!

Aidan is VERY green today. Including the egg over his eye, he's bathed in the green medicine usually reserved for bug bites. He and Mom enjoy a spirited game of "stinky feet" - Alli rolls him on her back and puts his feet in his face, making him grin and laugh. He also crawls over to one of the chairs and, without prompting or assistance, pulls HIM- SELF into a standing position. He is more active and engaged every day and seems to laugh more, too, whether we're tickling or playing with him or he's exploring on his own and talking to whatever he happens to find. He's got a way to go before catching up to Molly in the feistiness & expressiveness departments, but he's making progress.

After our visit, we double-time it back to the hotel to meet Dana for a visit to the local museum. Unfortunately, the museum is closed when we walk over, so we decide to walk down to the river. Folks are swim- ming and fishing and a couple of boys are playing with a soccer ball on the footbridge. I join them for 10 minutes then head over to join Alli, Beth and Bob for a rock skipping contest.

After the river, we walk to the open air market: Bob needs to stock up on almonds and raisins. It's VERY hot in the late afternoon sun. Our discussion of dinner plans focuses on someplace cool, i.e. outdoors in the shade or indoors where there is air conditioning. We settle on the Russian Pub, and though we're too early for some of our first entree choices, we enjoy another nice meal. After walking Dana 1/2-way home, we have another movie night at Bob & Beth's: Tonight, "Helen of Troy." It's very long and, for my money, not as good as "Troy" with Brad Pitt.

After the movie, and in consideration of the nearly eight miles we walked today, it's straight to bed.

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