Up @ 8:30 to get ready for church. Andre arrives promptly @ 9:45, and once again we get to church just as exposition is ending. We have a full altar again - two priests, four altar servers and the young seminarian. I count pews today: seven on either side of the aisle (not counting the very front seats where the altar servers sit). Each pew appears to hold four or five adults, so I estimate seating capacity @ about 70. There are probably 45-50 people here today.
After church, back to the hotel to change (me, out of long pants and into shorts), eat breakfast and pack the backpack for the baby home. Our schedule today: walk to the baby home; visit with the kids; meet Dana at the open air market on the way back to the hotel and shop for a while; go to "The Rice Place" for plov; spend the evening in the park - it's the park's birthday today.
It's warm on our walk to the baby home, and we're hoping the kids are in good moods today, as it might be too warm to take them out in the Snugglis. I go for Molly: She's dressed and on the floor playing with Cate and Daniel. The care-giver tells her I'm coming before I enter the room, and when I turn the corner, she's on her belly in what we call the "Superman Pose" - on her belly with arms and legs in the air - and looking in the direction of the doorway. When she sees me, she starts flapping her arms, kicking her legs and banging her toy on the floor. A guy could get used to that greeting every day....
In the boys' room, Aidan and Nicholas are standing in the balls. Unlike the time I put Aidan in there by himself weeks ago, there's no unhappiness today, but Alli reports they're both just standing there unsure of what to do. Perhaps they know whatever arrangements are made between the time they finish lunch and we arrive are temporary prior to our arrival and their relocation to the marble room.
Today is one of our best visits in memory! Molly is in a wonderful mood: laughing, gabbing and saying "dada dada dada" after tickling or when she's particularly pleased with herself (as when she discovers she knows how to clap!). She continues to find creeping/crawling interesting and rewarding, and we're pleased to see more and more of it done on her own initiative. Aidan's hot streak of pleasant days continues. He plays and explores, stopping by to sit with me and watch video we've already shot or to watch me shoot video of Molly, or visiting with Alli to talk with her necklace or just rest his head on her chest. The two of them are just a joy to watch, and I'm sure Alli and I can be found with silly grins on our faces at just about any moment when we're with them.
Dana's waiting for us when we arrive at the open air market @ 3:10. Bob and I buy shirts: He gets a couple with CCCP on them (a red one with the hammer & sickle on the front & CCCP on the back and a blue one with large white CCCP on the front) while I get a navy blue Umbro and a deep blue/almost black adidas. The girls shop but don't buy.
We head for "The Rice Place" just before 5. On the way, our little buddy from next door to Mama and Papa runs up from behind, tugs on my shorts and says hello. With Dana's help, we find out his name is Ibiek and he's anxious to see the photo we took of him with Bob and me. He is so cute! Dana estimates he's no more than 5 or 6, yet he's out running around the market with his wee friends.
Our plov is just as good the second time around. This time, instead of ordering dumplings, we get two orders of bread and a dipping sauce. The bread is very similar to what we get at the shishkabob place and the sauce turns out to be mayonnaise-based and nicely spicey. We all walk back to the hotel after the meal, and while Alli and Dana hang out with Bob & Beth, I crash hard for fifteen minutes. We head over to the park around 7 and find it crowded but not unusually so for a Sunday night. Moreover, we don't hear any music other than the usual accompaniment to the amusement rides and the competing karaoke machines. Olesya had told us to expect a "discotheque" - for old people or young people or perhaps both - so we walk to the city center mall area in search of music and dancing. The stage is empty and there's no music playing anywhere, so we return to the park.
Bob and Dana ride a spinning, tilting ride while Beth, Alli and I watch. When the ride is over, we hear music coming from the band shell just beyond the amusement park. We follow the sound to find what appears to be the same band Alli and I saw at the political rally we happened upon several weeks ago. Dancing to the band are the old people Olesya mentioned: With a very few exceptions, everyone is in their 60's or 70's. We watch for 15-20 minutes and the dancers are having a ball!
Time for a cold drink and a seat in the shade. Dana patiently endures another in the ongoing series of attempts to help us make heads or tails of Russian. I like to tease her about things that make no sense - e.g. the word for hair is not in the word for haircut - and she laughs and tries to explain until she realizes I'm pulling her leg.
After we walk Dana 1/2-way home, we return to the park and find the band has been replaced by a DJ pumping rave music for a crowd 25 to 30 years younger than us on average! With no music for 40-somethings, we head for the hotel. I fall asleep watching soccer, Alli dozes over a magazine. Tomorrow starts at 8 AM with the gym for the boys and walking for the girls. We're off to bed at 12:30....