While we were at dinner last night, Olesya called Dana to say Andre, our regular driver, would not be available to drive us to church this morning and to ask Dana to meet us and the replacement driver at our hotel on her way to the Mosque. At 9:45, Dana and her brother are approaching the hotel when, to everyone's surprise, Andre pulls up! We are glad to meet Dana's brother and happy that Dana was not too put out by the apparent miscommunication.
There is a baptism at church today. It takes place just after the homily. The little girl appears to be about 2, her parents in their mid-twenties. We watch and daydream about our kids' christenings: Bob and Beth are hoping to have Nicholas's very soon after they arrive home and before the priest they hope will perform the service leaves for his new assignment in Chicago. Alli and I are planning to have Molly and Aidan baptized on the last Sunday in September.
After church, we eat the usual quick Sunday morning breakfast, change, pack and head out for the baby home. Aidan is still in the infirmary. The nurse indicates he must be dressed and fed. After she dresses him, she brings him and his bottle out to the tiny lobby area where we are waiting. Alli takes Aidan and the bottle while the nurse goes off and returns with a stroller in the fully reclined position (?). Alli begins to feed Aidan while I go for Molly. She's in the playpen, dressed and ready to go. She wriggles excitedly when she sees me, but still doesn't get the whole "Help Papa lift you" idea and stays as she lays until I reach over and hoist her up. We return to the lobby to find Mommy and Aidan: He finished 1/2 of his bottle then refused to open his mouth. We decide we'll try again later...
In the marble room, Aidan refuses any more bottle from either of us. Molly sees his bottle and wonders aloud when hers will arrive! (We did not bring one today and, though we haven't told her yet, don't intend to bring one everyday.) Aidan is generally out of sorts today, not very active and more clingy than usual. Molly's OK to start, but the heat and the absent bottle take a toll. She and I go for a walk around 1:50. Less than one time around the building and she's out cold. We go back to the marble room and she naps soundly until 2:20. When she wakes, I give her to Bob so I can clean up the toys, cameras, etc. She sits on Bob's lap with a look on her face like "Who are you and what are you talking about?" All of you back home, get ready: It's her best look and you will see it....
Alli takes Aidan back to the infirmary. I take Molly back to her room just in time for her afternoon snack: a cookie soaked in "soured" milk. After bussing home, Alli and I go to the Internet Cafe to post Blog entries for Thursday and Friday, July 28 and 29. We meet Bob & Beth at the hotel at 5 and walk to The Dom for dinner prior to Dana's arrival for the soccer match. We order without a hitch and enjoy a light meal of salads and sides (called garnishes here).
On our walk to the stadium, the skies darken and the wind picks up, dropping the temperatures measurably and swirling dust and dirt. It doesn't appear the impending rain can miss us, and once again we are thankful our seats are under cover (same section as the first two matches and one row higher). We arrive at 6:30 for a 7 PM kick-off and the winds persist throughout warmups. We see lightning in the distance as game time nears.
Three things of note in the first half: (1)It never rains, but the cloud cover and breeze remain to keep things cool, making Alli thankful I suggested she bring along her light-weight sweat top. (2) Tobol does not score. You might recall the first two matches we saw were 3-0 and 5-0 respectively at the half, but tonight's opponent, Taraz, is playing a defensive style with a single striker and five midfielders. Tobol has a handful of chances but can't finish. (3) Tobol's sweeper leaves the game with an injury at about the 30 minute mark. He and his central defense mate are very good and anchor a back line we've yet to see concede a goal. In a tight match, it will be interesting to see if his loss is pivotal.
After the intermission, Tobol is attacking at the end in front of our seats (as they had been in the previous matches). Unlike our earlier experience, when we did not see much attacking passion due to the size of the half-time advantages, we expect to see all-out attacking soccer tonight, as a tie will do Tobol no good in their effort to overtake the top team. It's all Tobol as we had hoped with plenty of action in the attacking third and a number of scoring chances. Despite the pressure, and with the help of some questionable passing & indecisive playmaking by Tobol, it appears Taraz will take a point on the road and send us home disappointed for the first time in three matches. However, at the 85 minute mark, Taraz's keeper can't control a hard shot/cross from just outside the area to his left, instead parrying it into the path of Tobol's #11 crashing the net from the weak side. Quick as you please, the ball's in the back of the net, it's 1-0 for the home side & bedlam erupts around the stadium, particularly in section 2. Tobol rides out the remaining few minutes of regulation time and two minutes of added time to send the faithful home with another win. "Ole, ole, ole, ole,
We walk back to the hotel - potty breaks for everyone - then walk with Dana. Just before our normal turnaround point, a black cat crosses in front of us. Kazakh people are very superstitious, and Dana is no exception. She stops us in our tracks, directs us to turn back from that point and crosses the street before continuing on her way.
Back at the hotel, Dana calls to make sure we got home OK and to report Olesya went into the hospital today (a day earlier than scheduled). Alli & I have pudding while reading, watching soccer and dozing. I wake her at midnight to get ready for bed: Lights out at 12:15.