Saturday, September 30, 2006

Last Day........

Our interview went well and was very quick. Security at the embassy was amazing. I will stop there as it is probably not a good idea to comment further.
I have Rebecca’s visa to travel!! So we are off tomorrow morning!! We asked our driver, Nicholi, to drop us off at the market because we wanted to celebrate. We picked up some necessities, then got a bowl of ice-cream and sat in a big outdoor area. Rebecca enjoyed the texture and would have eaten the whole bowl if I let her. We walked around for a couple of hours and came across a festival. It appeared as though there was a contest of some sort sponsored by BMW, near the stage. A judge was looking and rating drawings done by children and there was a brand new BMW hidden under a big cover. The television stations were there with cameras and lots of people were showing up. I took some pictures and then we headed home for a rest.
Its funny, every aspect of Rebecca’s life was so structured at the orphanage and part of that structure was her morning and night time bottle which was suppose to be 200 grams. I make her 8 oz which is about 240 grams and every time she drinks just the 200 grams and leaves the rest.
Oleg is picking us up at 4:00 am so I will spend the rest of the day packing and try to get to bed early. Not sure if Rebecca will see it that way but we can always hope… cant wait to see everyone and get Rebecca into her home.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Out and about in Almaty (Thursday)

Today we had the day to ourselves; it was a perfect day, sunny, no wind, warm. I don’t think I have ever seen it rain in Kazakhstan.
Rebecca woke up at 6:00 this morning we had breakfast. She is getting more and more comfortable with me as each day passes and is starting to believe I am here to stay. She has had so many changes in her life over the past couple of months. We came to bond with her and then left. Since we left she was moved to a different room twice and had get to know new caretakers so she has been clinging onto me day and night. This is the first day I can set her down in the stroller and actually brush my teeth and change etc. without her crying.
As long as I am in her sight she is fine now and doesn’t cry so that’s a good sign. Rebecca and I had a talk about what we should do today and it was agreed that we should throw the schedule to the wind and just head out and spend the day walking around Almaty. So we dressed, stopped at the front desk and asked for a map, which they had for us and we headed out. We took a few pictures but not many, we walked for about 4 hours. We found some nice little parks to take a break. Rebecca would have her juice and I would have a Pepsi light. I took the baby blanket and was able to wrap it around her feet and tuck it under her seat strap so no one could see her feet. This allowed us to make better time walking without being stopped by well intended babushkas or potentially being pummeled with debris if I ignored them.
There are many universities and schools in the area we are staying. We walked into the “Kazakhstan school of Design” just out of curiosity. The classrooms were small, maybe 20 chairs behind 4 tables in very close quarters. Our hotel is right next to the school of economics. I find it very frustrating not being able to read the Russian or Kazakh language. Last month I was content just being able to walk into any store and successfully purchase any item with gesturing and pointing. But now I find myself wanting to learn and experience more and I have this language barrier that only allows me to experience Almaty from the outside. I would like to interact more with the people and read the signs and billboards, but I cant. Anyway, we had a nice day. We found this huge park and several people stopped me to ask me where I was from. So much for blending in, I guess not many men walk thru the park pushing a stroller in Kazakhstan, but then again it is not all that common in the US either. We passed a church on our walk, The church of Saint Nicolas, and walked thru. The color of Rebecca’s outfit matched the outside of the church exactly which was bazaar.

We bought some fresh bread towards the end of our walk and stopped at this very busy intersection and we both ate the bread and watched the people walk by. We missed her nap but she never fussed and thoroughly enjoyed being out and about. We just hung out in the room together tonight, we played peek-A-Boo where I left the room briefly and then came back in and Rebecca laughed and enjoyed playing. She eventually tired of the game but I can now go in and out of the bathroom without her getting upset. Going to bed was a different story; I am not sure how I am going to ease her anxiety about sleeping in the crib. She gets so upset when I place her in there. I let her cry for a few minutes, it was such a desperate cry and so intense that I had to take her out. I laid her down in the bed with me, sang her the “Umbrella Song” (which is James favorite) and in less than 30 seconds she was asleep.
Tomorrow we have our interview with the US Embassy for our exit visa at 2:30 pm. That is our last hurdle before we can leave the country, wish us luck.

1. Rebecca in front of the church of Saint Nicholas
2. Local Park.
3. Coca-Cola Delivery truck
4. Myrtle Leaves – (sold around town) If you take these into a steam room or sauna and beat them against your skin it is suppose to be healthy for you.
5. Rebecca opening up a little snack before bedtime.

I was asked to post my email address:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Medical tests

Wednesday Rebecca was up and ready to go at 5:30 am. She was all smiles and couldn’t wait to be picked up. We dressed, had breakfast and Eugene was waiting for us at 8:30 to take us to the SOS clinic, as he said he would. Eugene is Olegs father and is very kind and efficient, he had also helped us out when we were here adopting Daniel and James 3 years ago. The Almaty group runs like clockwork, are always on time, makes sure we are comfortable and tells us the schedule in advance which really helps in planning the day. At the clinic Eugene signed us in and were called in to have blood drawn for Rebecca’s HIV test. She did very well, not a tear. Next we sat in the waiting room and ran into Eli and Evone (small world) before going in for Rebeccas exam. We put her on the scale and she weighed 18.6 pounds and measured 27”. The exam reveled she had a sore throat with a slight ear infection but not too bad. Rest, fluids and she should be fine in a couple of days, was the prescription. Other than that she is in perfect health !! From there we headed over to the photo shop to have Rebecca’s picture taken, there was a small studio in the back where a photographer worked. There were about four or five people ahead of us to have photos taken but Eugene just walked right past the first person in line and into the studio, had a conversation with the photographer and then told me to come on in. I felt bad that we were cutting in line like that and told Eugene that there were other people ahead of us. They seemed annoyed at first until Eugene spoke to them. It was a very long explanation but when he was done talking they all looked at Rebecca, smiled and gestured for me to go in. Rebecca smiled on cue, one picture and we were done.
We got back to the hotel at about 10:30, Oleg stopped over at noon time to review our paper work and lay out our schedule for the next few days. The HIV results take 24 hours at which time we schedule our interview with the US emabassy. Oleg indicated he thought it would be Friday at 2:30pm. The embassy should make their decision by 4:30 and issue a Visa for Rebecca to travel. There are no flights on Saturday on KLM so we will stay on schedule and fly out Sunday morning.
After Rebecca’s nap we went to the market for water, soda and bread. I was scolded at least 3 times on my trip because Rebecca did not have shoes on. I tried to explain that she doesn’t walk yet, and she has 2 pairs of socks on and stretch type pants underneath, with feet, so that’s 3 layers. It was warm outside, I was just wearing a short sleeve shirt myself.
After we got back to the hotel we played for awhile, I fed her and gave Rebecca her first bath. The room only came with a shower but the sink looked big enough. I got the shampoo out filled the sink up with warm water and put Rebecca in, but she displaced more water than I had thought and it spilled all over the floor. So I pulled her out and let some of the water out of the sink and Rebecca had this expression on her face that I cant describe but I think I lost some trust points on that one. She enjoyed the bath and I managed to shampoo her hair without getting it into her eyes. I dressed her in her pajamas and we walked down to a little room they have in the back with tables and chairs and plants. We explored there for awhile and then off to bed. She didn’t go down easy at all and screamed for half an hour, she would calm down a little if I sat next to the crib and talked with her but she was still crying. Finally I picked her up and put her in bed with me and she fell asleep immediately. I would have left her there but I am so afraid that I will roll over on her in my sleep so I carefully put her back in the crib and she slept though the night.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Picking up Rebecca

Well the big day is here, I didn’t sleep very well, I think partly due to the anticipation of taking on the responsibility of caring for Rebecca and missing Jeanine and the boys. I was up early and went for a walk around the neighborhood. Bouchon and Dina picked me up at 11:30am and we headed over to the baby store to get some baby food to hold me over until I get home and then off to “Rebeccas house”. We arrived and I just went straight up to get Rebecca. I walked into her room and she had this big smile for me and her arms were waving around, indicating for me to pick her up, which I did and we walked around the hallways one last time. It was strongly suggested to dress her in the snow suit I had brought with me (in case it got cold) and I just had to say no. I know it is late September but It was 71 degrees outside and she would roast inside the snow suit, she is “My” daughter now and I thought 3 layers of clothes, a hooded top and hat would suffice, so that is what she wore as her exit clothing. I brought her down stairs and we said goodbye to her doctor and the director Doctor Alma (photos) and headed straight to the airport. We got there with minutes to spare. It was a whirl wind as I tried to manage Rebecca…… our luggage……trying to get thru security….. trying to locate and re-secure our passports. I met Evone and Eli at our terminal and we spoke briefly as we both tried to juggle our newly acquired additions onto the plane. Rebecca was very scared and was looking around for a familiar face and was very stressed and upset at not finding one. As we sat in our seat she was shaking and physically upset, she wasn’t quite comfortable with me yet and seemed to need the comfort of her caregivers. I looked down and she had a grip on my shirt with both hands, so tight, that her knuckles were white. I tried to sooth her the best I could and she finally calmed down. I brought some bottled juice for her to suck on (to help with the pressure differential in her ears) as we took off but she rejected the bottle and screamed for about 40 minutes. As we reached altitude the pain in her ears seemed to subside and she started to play a little and take some juice. The guy sitting next to me was great he was a business man who knew kids very well. He was very understanding and helped distract Rebecca with some beads, keys etc. I had to laugh, to myself, because at one point he asked if Rebecca was a boy or a girl and here she was dressed in pink “everything” socks, hat, pants etc. It must be a guy thing because I would always do the same thing, when I met a baby, and ask if it was a boy or a girl and Jeanine would elbow me in the side and say “She is wearing pink, why would you think it was a he??” Guys just don’t notice things like that. Evone had worse luck than I did. Eli vomited on the guy next to her and she had to change her first poopy diaper at 10,000 feet !! So Nicholi was waiting for us as we came out of the airport. We got to the Hotel KazZhol and there was a really nice room waiting for us, with a crib, it was 6:30 – 7:00 so I prepared some dinner for Rebecca and we just hung out together and had fun. She fell asleep in my arms and I placed her in her crib and she slept thru the night.

Astana (Monday)

Nicholi picked me up at 3:45 am and we headed over to the airport. I had a very smooth and uneventful trip to Astana. It is curious how people see me as that different from the rest. As I was entering the plane the attendant said good morning to everyone in Russian/Kazakh and as I passed she spoke to me in English. Maybe because I was the only one not wearing a suit and I was carrying a backpack instead of a briefcase. Dina and Bouchon were waiting for me and we headed over to the hotel. I am not sure how to spell the name of the hotel, right now, but it is the same place Elana stayed at when she came to visit us. The hotel is under construction and extremely loud when I got to my room. I had to pay in cash with little chance of getting my money back, so I think I quickly decided that Rebecca would spend one more night in her old bed where it was quiet and she had a crib.

So we finally headed over to the Baby house and I met with Rebeccas Doctor(s) and found that she was healthy!!! No cold, no ear infection. We retrieved her immunization records and medical history and then went to see Doctor Alma the director. She was very nice, we spoke about the challenges that bestow those who raise children, she gave me some tips on traveling with a 9 month year old and said again that she was happy that we brought Daniel and James with us because she enjoyed meeting them again. Well I headed up to see Rebecca and it turns out she was asleep so I had an hour to burn. I walked around and ran into Easton and his parents from Las Vegas. They seemed so overjoyed, their waiting period had expired and they were taking Easton back to the apartment with them, so we spoke for awhile and said goodbye and promised to keep in touch. I said I would put my email address on the blog. I also ran into Adin (sp?) and his parents, who I had met briefly on my previous trip. We may see them in Almaty at the end of our trip. I also spotted Eli with one of the caretakers, he has gotten so big !! His mother, Evone, is doing 2 trips also and is expected back tomorrow to retrieve him. So there will be many of us in Almaty next week.
Well, Rebecca finally woke up and when I went in to see her she had this big smile for me !! I didn’t think she would remember me after being gone for a month. The caretakers dressed her warm and we went out for a walk, she grabbed onto my collar with both hands and never let go the whole time we were outside. She looks very healthy, I got her to giggle a few times and I really enjoyed my 2 hours with her. She cried a little towards the end and seemed a little frightened as we headed back to her room. She took comfort with one of her caretakers, who I had not met before.
So the plan is that the caregivers will feed Rebecca before I pick her up, tomorrow and then we will go directly to the Airport and then off to Almaty. I heard the Ministry of Health is coming tomorrow for inspections so the place is getting spruced up a little.

Almaty (Sunday)

The trip from Amsterdam to Almaty went smoothly. I got a few hours sleep and arrived somewhat refreshed. Customs was well staffed and I managed to get thru in about 40 minutes. My luggage was a different story; I was there for a good hour. There were three luggage portals one from Moscow, one from Cairo, one from Amsterdam. Everyone from my flight had picked up their bags and left, but mine never came out. So I started walking around looking for a “Lost and Found window” of some sort and I happened to spot my bag on the carousel from Cairo, so I grabbed it and then started looking for Rebecca’s stroller. I eventually found it riding around the Carousel from Moscow. It was difficult to recognize because it had taken a real beating, was wrapped in several layers of plastic shrink wrap and one wheel was torn off, which someone had tried to reinstall using a half a roll of duct tape another wheel was taped to one of the handles. I grabbed the stroller and headed over to the “Baggage claim window” where there was another person, who seemed pretty upset and was yelling. I looked down at his bag which seemed new and was originally rectangular now took on a more Trapezoidal shape and was held together by several layers of shrink wrap and tape. It was quite apparent that the guy who reattached the wheel onto my stroller used the rest of the roll of duct tape to repair this guys bag. I decided to move on and not complain because the guy in front of me had the advantage of knowing the language and didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. I found out later that the wheels just pop back on so no damage was done.
Oleg was there waiting for me and we headed over to the Hotel KazZhol. The hotel is hidden away and down a small alley and first impressions proved to be very favorable. The lobby is newly renovated, the receptionist spoke some English so Oleg said good bye, I finished checking in and headed to my room. The hallways were very dark and in need of paint and new carpet, which appeared to be in progress. The elevator was out of order so we, the bell captain and I, proceeded to walk up to the 3rd floor. The 2nd floor took on more frat house feel to it with the smell of stale beer, my guess is that it was a wedding party of some type based on the balloons and color of the debris in the hallway and on the doors. The 3rd floor was very dark but clean. The room I was in was newly renovated and very nice. I unpacked got some rest for a few hours and then decided to take a walk to see if I could find a market. I walked about 3 blocks and came to an intersection where you needed to walk under the street to get across. It seemed a little dark and I was somewhat apprehensive about walking down there initially, but finally followed a few other people down. It was interesting there were several shops (very small) selling toys, books etc. under the street and they were closed. As I emerged on the other side there was a very large in-door/out-door market with lots of activity, food being cooked, purchased and consumed along the side walk. I picked up some bottled water, fresh bread, tooth brush and pepsi Light (as they call it here) from the indoor market and then headed back to the hotel. The driver was scheduled to pick me up at 4:00 am for my trip to Astana so I watched a little television to tire me out. They had the Sopranos on and it was dubbed in Russian. The voices were very different and Tony Soprano sounded a little like Dick Cheney which put me to sleep.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Hi, I made it to Amsterdam. I didnt sleep at all. I went to the KLM ticket counter to try to get assigned seating for our return flight with a bassinet, which are typically the bulkhead seats and am glad I did. I found out that Rebecca cannot return home on an electronic ticket. I guess infants need paper tickets (atleast with KLM/Northwest)so I repurchased the tickets which turned out to be alot cheaper than doing it in Almaty. But they still couldnt reserve the bulkhead seat for me, I will have to try again in Almaty.
Well I am going to look around for "Bruce the shark" in the lost and found room and then walk around a bit before my next flight to Almaty. My coordinator, Libby, indicated that there may be room at the Hotel KazZhol !! So I am feeling a little better about knowing where I am staying.
Well time running out, I will try to update in Kazakhstan.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Flying out tomorrow

Happy Birthday Ian!!

We received some upsetting news which resulted in some new requirements that will lengthen our second trip a little. Some of the blood supply in Kazakhstan was inadvertently contaminated with the HIV virus which resulted in 55 children (4 have died) and 2 adults (so far, as of today) contracting the HIV virus and the firing of the Kazakh Health minister this week. So far only 50% of the 9,800 children (who are at risk) under the age of 2 have been tested. So the US embassy has added a requirement that all children who have been or who are considered for adoption be tested for the virus before receiving their US visa to travel. So Rebecca can’t leave the country without an HIV clearance from our embassy. I will pick up Rebecca in Astana on Monday and fly directly back to Almaty and have her blood drawn and tested at the International Clinic there. I am not sure at this point how much longer I will need to stay, but I will be pushing to have the results back as soon as possible. I just hope she is okay and that this also doesn’t turn into a big paperwork glitch.
I spent the last 2 days packing and running around for last minute stuff and I think I am ready to go. The hotel KazZhol, which I was hoping to stay at, is full so my coordinator in Almaty is booking another hotel, which I don’t have the name of yet. I just hope it is as nice. I am trying to avoid the Hyatt, which costs about $280/night (for a basic room), but might have to consider if the alternative turns out to be not so nice.
The President of Kazakhstan is flying out the same time I am only he is coming to the US to visit President Bush for the week and I arrive in Kazakhstan on the first day of Ramadan. I am not sure what that means, exactly. But hopefully most of the stores and government agencies are open and working that week.

I am taking my computer but am not sure if I will be able to get a connection in the hotels I am staying at. I probably will not want to go to an internet café with Rebecca, but will check in when I can.

Wish Rebecca and I luck!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Autumn is knocking

We have had a nice week, Jeanine took the boys “Apple picking” over the weekend and they had a blast and came home with a couple bags of apples so we have plenty of snacks for the coming weeks. Daniel and James have been watching this little farm stand we pass everyday and they have had pumpkins out over the past few weeks (but no cornstalks) and keep asking to stop because they really like pumpkins and cornstalks and the idea of having them in our own yard is all they have been talking about. So they finally had the cornstalks out this week and we stopped and picked out some pumpkins and a cornstalk. We took them home and placed them on the front lawn. It was a very momentous occasion with lots of fanfare as we attached the cornstalk to our mailbox and crowds gathered to see how nice it looked and experience the placing and organizing of the pumpkins at the base of the cornstalk. I must admit that it is the finest display depicting our celebration of the onset of autumn that could be assembled. Daniel asked if he could look for some corn and managed to find 2 ears which he pulled off and shucked all over the driveway which would remain and serve as visual evidence of our Revelry. After the crowds thinned a bit we headed in for dinner, bath and bed. We wake up each morning and look out the window and take great personal satisfaction that our creation is still there.
The bus is working out well for all of us. I have arranged for the boys to go to a neighbor’s house while I am away. She runs a daycare and has agreed to take them on for next week, she serves breakfast, lunch and will get them on and off the bus!!

Rebecca’s room is almost ready, we moved all the boys toys and stuff out, put up a couple of shelves, rearranged her closet. The only major piece left is to find a rug for her floor which will eliminate the echo effect and quiet the room down a little.
Well the time is coming quickly and I am starting to get a little anxious about my trip (I leave in 3 days). We purchased some clothes to take along with us; the weather report shows that it gets down close to the freezing mark at night so I will be bringing some warm clothes also. I have to say that I have experienced numerous stressful situations in my personal and professional life, deadlines, public speaking, job interviews, product launches etc. but I feel under prepared for this trip and cannot sooth myself with the knowledge that there is a plan “B”. I will be going to the orphanage and the caretakers will hand Rebecca over to me and then what? Hopefully she will not sense my trepidation, but I am sure we will stare at each other and try to determine which one of us is more scared, I guess. The scales tip heavily in her favor, though, for she will be the one leaving the only place she has ever known, familiar sights and smells, the security of a hard fast routine and people she knows and who care for her.
I will need to figure out her schedule, feed her food she has never had before, try to sleep when she sleeps. She was very frightened when we took her in the car to get her passport photos I cant imagine how she will like the airplane rides.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rainy Day

James had been on the bus before but this was Daniels first day (and the 1st day for many of the other kids, it turned out) and he was really excited. Daniel wanted to know what I was going to do while he was at school and I told him I would probably look for pine cones and Dandelions and he approved that it was time well spent. The bus pulled up 20 minutes late, lights flashing and I got on with them to help them get buckled into their seats. So the driver asked if I wanted to follow her and I sort of stared at the ground for a moment trying desperately to figure out why I needed to do that, was it parent teacher day? I attended orientation and read the schedule and rules book cover to cover so I was fairly confident that there was not a meeting. If she didn’t know the way she would ask to follow me. It seemed like it may have been her first day because she had a map and schedule book out so maybe she would feel better if some of the parents followed her in to school. So finally I asked if she needed me to follow her and she said “no”, so I knew there was no meeting at the school that day. The driver introduced the other kids to Daniel and James and they seemed comfortable So I said goodbye to them and as I emerged from the bus I looked up the street and saw 2 other cars stopped in the middle of the street (we live in a cul-de-sac so it wasn’t traffic) and they appeared to be following the bus. All I could think of is the driver asked them the same question and they were as confused as I was and just decided to do what she said, so they are following the bus. If it continues maybe I'll follow the bus and see what happens, maybe all the parents go to Dunkin Donuts after the bus drops the kids off.

The mail came and I received my passport and Visa back today (wow 2 day fedex turn around) and my tickets are booked so all I need to do is book my hotel rooms and figure out how long I will be in Astana and Alamty. Probably pick up Rebecca on Monday, get settled into some sort of routine, purchase food and anything else I will need for my trip home and then return to Almaty on Wednesday where my agency will schedule the embassy visit and physical. So that will give me a whole day (Saturday) to be a tourist.
I didn’t figure that out on my own, my agency told me that’s what would be best. They have been right so far. Yes, I will be traveling alone this trip, so it may be a challenge.

The bus returned in the afternoon and it was pouring rain and we all got soaked, the boys had fun. They knew I was real busy talking to the driver about tomorrow and trying to keep their back packs and paper projects (they brought home) dry so they took the opportunity to roll down the lawn and into a puddle. I waved and said I was all set and she just stared at me for a moment and then finally opened the door and said she cant move the bus until my kids are 10 yards away and within viewing distance. So I quickly realized I was holding things up so I retrieved Daniel from the mud puddle and James was sitting on the wet ground. I waved and the people in the cars behind the bus started waving at me too as they passed, so I waved back. They had a great time on the bus their first day, we had sung so many songs and read books about school buses that I think they really enjoyed their first experience.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

15 Day Wait is over

The mandatory 15 day waiting period has passed without a hitch so the papers are stamped and sealed!! Spent the last couple of days getting ready for the 2nd trip. I needed to fill out my visa application and submit another photo and passport. So off to the bank for a certified check and then to the post office. I received my tentative travel schedule so I went ahead and purchased tickets. The best deal is still Northwest Airlines thru Amsterdam. So I will be leaving on Friday September 22nd and returning on October 1st. We got word today that little Rebecca is still sick, runny nose and another ear infection. I think she has grown resistant to the antibiotics because she has had this infection since at least July 30th and probably longer so it is very concerning. I was able to get her into the system at our pediatrician’s office today so she will be able to go right in, after she gets home, and get her checked out. I was told by an, in country, informant that the Popplewells went out and bought some diapers for Rebecca (again) because she had a serious diaper rash. We will have to figure out a way to repay the favor someday, so thank you Tim, Susan and Luke for caring so much and helping our little one, especially when you have your hands full and are travelling to Almaty today.
I have been driving the boys back and forth to school everyday and it has slowly dawned on me that this routine will be very difficult after Rebecca gets home, especially since we need to park quite a distance from the school and walk in (the way it is structured right now) and with the snow/slush and a baby in tow it is going to be very difficult come winter time. So I have requested that they start taking the bus. So Tomorrow is the first day, the bus comes at noon and…………well…………… we will see what happens. I will miss the contact with the teachers and getting quick updates on how their day went.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Off to Amelia's

Saturday we finally started to get into gear and prepare for Rebecca coming home. We purchased booster seats for Daniel and James and cleaned up one of their seats for Rebecca. I couldn’t believe what a job that was; the seat had to be totally disassembled to get the cover off so that it could be washed. It took me most of the morning.
James has been bugging us to go to Amelia’s for lunch (since Kazakhstan) so after I got Rebecca’s car seat installed we headed off to “Good Harbor beach” in Gloucester. This may be one of the last really nice days so we took advantage (mid 80’s I think). The boys burned off a ton of energy, Daniel spent the entire time cleaning up all the seaweed off the beach and from the water so the east coast beaches should be fairly void of seaweed for most of the week, James inspected everyone’s umbrellas to see if they were secure.

Amelia’s is a nice indoor/outdoor restaurant right near the beach that serves great baked haddock. The boys ate mostly fries, life was good for James and we then headed home. The booster seats are nice; they can just climb in themselves. James slept on the way home and Daniel had lots of questions about his old seat and why it was facing backwards and when Rebecca would be coming home, why she couldn’t just sit on his lap and he could hold her etc.

We didn’t get home until after 8:00, so off to bed.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

1st Day of School

We sort of eased our way into school this morning. I could tell Daniel was anxious about the whole school thing because he kept asking questions about it, like who was his teacher again and is James going to be going to the same school, where will I be during the time he is in school, When is Mommy coming home? So finally I took out some of the things they had made during summer school (from July) and talked about what their day was like, the friends they had met and how much fun they had. James just enjoys going and he knows everyone so I wasn’t worried about him.

Daniel learned how to spit in Kazakhstan. It seems everyone spits when they get out of the car, so that is what Daniel does now. Every time we get out of the car he needs to spit on the ground. It is very aggravating but I seem to be working on so many other social skills like keeping clothes on in public, not hitting each other, not saying “###” every time they are frustrated and or throwing themselves on the ground (even if it is raining and muddy) that I don’t think I can tackle the spitting issue right now. Sorry, I just needed to talk about it.

School went well today, I was surprised that there were so few students. In James class there were 5 students and 2 teachers, one assistant and Daniels class had only 4 students and 2 teachers. Maybe other kids will be showing up later, but they are nice classrooms, they were just built over the summer. Jeanine came back from her trip early and surprised Daniel and James when she was there to pick them up from school. James greeted her with a big smile and hugs. Daniel burst into tears and gave her a big hug. The teachers said they had a good first day. I forgot my camera when I dropped them off so I got pictures of them when we picked them up, which turned out to be a little difficult.

Looks like I will be traveling on September 23rd and returning on the 30th according to our agency. So I will be applying for my visa next week, booking my airline tickets and deciding what hotel to stay at.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Last "Unofficial" Day of Summer

Well our finger prints came thru (thanks to our agency) so we are set to go with our I-797C. I guess I still need to get a visa to travel so that is my next hurdle.
The boys met their teachers today at orientation. I couldn’t be with both of them so the schools director, Pam, took James to his classroom and I went with Daniel to his because he was feeling a bit insecure.
It was longer than I expected (about 1 ½ hours) but they held up fairly well. They seem to like their teachers and we said our goodbyes until tomorrow (first day of school) headed off to the park afterwards and then to our favorite ice cream place. James chose a table with an umbrella and had chocolate.
Daniel had Strawberry with a little “mint chocolate chip” mixed in (always so complicated). Mallory (Daniel and James’ sitter) stopped over after school and was excited to tell us all about her first 2 days of high school. A couple of seniors tried to sell her elevator passes for $2 and another was selling tickets to the “seniors lounge” for $5 which she didn’t purchase. I guess some aspects of high school haven’t changed very much since I have attended. She wanted to see pictures of Rebecca and thought she was too cute and said she can’t wait to start baby sitting for her (I wonder if the price goes up now that there are three?).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back to School

We had a very nice “Labor day”, we spent it with some family, had a cook out (Hamburgers, Hotdogs, Bratwurst, chips and chocolate cake) good thing I took an extra lipitor. Daniel and James got to play with Victoria and Stephen.
I have been researching hotels and decided that I will stay at the Hotel Kazzhol (in Almaty) which is about $140/160/night with breakfast included vs staying at the Hyatt which is $280/night with nothing included. When we stayed there breakfast cost us over $100, water cost us $5.00. Plus, it would be nice to stay someplace different and be able to walk to stores, food places etc. since I will be there a few days with Rebecca.
Jeanine left for England after the cook out and will not be home until Friday and I will be busy this week getting the kids ready for school, I still have all the release forms, medicals etc. to fill out and drop off. The boys will be attending in the afternoon session. We have the option of them taking the bus to school, but I opted to take them and pick them up (at least to start with). Although they are “World Travelers” now and can now manager and maintain their balance in a car weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds without a seat belt and exposure to older children (4 ½ year olds) doesn’t run a high risk of them picking up any long lasting bad habits like chewing tobacco or gambling with their snack money I just feel it is better (for me) to pick them up and drop them off, plus it gives me a chance to speak to the teachers and keep up on how they are doing.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Adjusting Back

We have had a long transition adjusting back to our time zone. If it was just Jeanine and I we would have adjusted quickly but the boys were falling asleep at 3:00 in the afternoon and waking up at midnight. So we slowly pushed it a little each day until now (Saturday) they are finally back on schedule.
We picked up our mail from the post office. It is amazing how much junk mail we get, about 10% of what we got was actually meaningful and/or warranted opening. The rest we just transferred into a small trashbag. The one important piece we were looking for was not there, our new I-797C. INS also needs to cable this to the US Embassy in Almaty because our Fingerprints expired, I always thought finger prints never changed. Why do we keep having to update the INS database with new prints? Our agency has been great and said they will handle all the leg work and make sure the info gets to Almaty on time and copies are sent to us at home. We picked up our rabbit (Patches) yesterday from Jeanines Mom. It was a tough job for her. It turned out she discovered she was allergic to Rabbits and has been taking Allergy medication for 4-5 weeks, she didn’t tell us it was that bad, I guess, because she didn’t want us to worry. The rabbit chewed thru the wires in her place and she had to replace her alarm clock, a lamp and have a new cable installed for her Television. She said the cable guy didn’t quite believe what it said on his “Work Order” so he asked to see the Rabbit, he didnt appear to be a big rabbit fan. Our water pump died while we were away and had to have that replaced, but everything else seems to be okay. We need to start getting Rebecca’s room together and prep it for her arrival.