Saturday, September 30, 2006

And Things Are Looking Up

Today was better. We are adjusting to our new digs. Last night was a little rough on the pull-out loveseat bed. Oh well. I’m sure we will live. :) My biggest complaint is no washing machine. This afternoon I was bent over a bucket in the tub scrubbing the boys’ clothes. I pulled out one outfit and quickly realized it had been more than worn – it stunk! Even washing didn’t seem to be helping so I left it to soak and I hope it’s better. I have no idea when everything will dry - could take a couple days. :)

Patrick was delighted to see us and did not have to have a chest massage today – yeah! He really is starting to like Daddy. He actually went to him and sat on his lap a couple of times. We are thrilled! He loves to hide and play peek-a-boo with Mommy. What a happy, laid-back kid. We would never have guessed it when we first met him.

Calvin was great today! It was such a gorgeous day today that we decided to take him outside. The other family can’t go outside so we had the majority of our visit with just the three of us. It was wonderful! He was very cuddly and enjoyed playing with the fall leaves. He is enamored with his shoes but has trouble walking in them. :) It was the most relaxed time we’ve had with him since maybe the first visit. No one was around. We went inside when there was about a ½ hour left and that’s when he was grouchy again. It was just so wonderful to see him enjoying being held and loved. We are definitely going to push for more time without others around.

Our translator told us about a small store near our apartment which we checked out this afternoon. It’s great – it has all of the basic food things we need. One of the clerks even spoke some English which made our day! We think it made her day too – she seemed so pleased to be able to practice!

We had dinner with two of the families tonight at MacJohns. We had pizza and milkshakes – it was pretty good. The milkshakes are a little different than what we are used to but after a few sips you kind of forget. :) Josh & Saige and the boys walked back with us to our apartment for a quick tour and then we walked to their apartment. We discovered that we are living maybe a 3 minute walk from each other. And they have a washer which I will go and use tomorrow! Yay for laundry! So all in all, we can’t complain. :) Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

P.S. We forgot to relate one of the funniest things that happened yesterday: Andrew was “flying” Calvin all over the room, dive-bombing the ball and causing Calvin to give it mighty kicks. Calvin was squealing in delight. Suddenly, Calvin’s pants went flying across the room – they had come completely off. Both Calvin and Andrew looked very surprised. Everyone else nearly died laughing.

P.P.S. We forgot to mention that we get CNN, BBC, and EuroNews - all of which are in English - hooray for us! :)

Friday 9/29

Friday, September 29, 2006

(This was written yesterday...we hope to have daily access but no guarantees.)

This morning was so different from every other morning we’ve been here. We went down to the dining room for breakfast – it’s usually just adoptive families there but not today! There were swarms of people. We sat at a table and they had a lovely buffet – eggs, bacon, porridge, potatoes, mushrooms, beans, sausage, and assorted breads and pastries. Well, 2 Russian guys joined us but didn’t even acknowledge that we were all sitting at the same table…kind of strange. Anyway, we headed out to leave for our morning visit and talked to one of the front desk ladies we’ve gotten to know. She told us that a lot of the people here are media and from the consulate. She confirmed that there will be 4 presidents meeting but said she did not know how long Putin would be here – maybe just a few hours on Monday. She said security is not very easy at the hotel. Marina also told us that the president of Kaz is very good. This is the first political discussion we’ve heard…our translator doesn’t keep up with politics much. So, it was interesting and entertaining. We have not had any trouble getting in and out of the hotel today. The officers look at us a little funny but that’s it.

Patrick is great. He seems to be feeling fine but still has a runny nose. The doctor prescribed chest massage – sounds good, huh. Well it’s not. This is a not happy mama. They beat his chest and back very hard and he screams and cries. I’m afraid they are hurting him. It is such hard beating. Yesterday it did not seem like the nurse did it so aggressively. I was so mad and kept praying they would just stop. He let Andrew hold him really for the first time today which was exciting. Patrick has been tolerating him so far and engaging him in play just a little but today he was more open. It was wonderful to see. He is such an even-tempered kid. He is so happy to see us every day and doesn’t want us to leave. Hopefully it won’t be much longer.

We had lunch with Josh, Saige, Andre, and Gregory at the Children’s Café. We braved the menu again and just ordered several things. Everything was delicious! We evidently ordered some kind of salad with cucumber, cheese, onion, and mayonnaise (2 of these); hot dog crepes (as in a hot dog wrapped in a crepe/egg thing) – we ended up with 3 orders; pork smothered in ketchup, mayonnaise, and pears (actually was one of the best things we ordered!); marinated meat with olives; creamy prune salad with walnuts; banana cream cocoa dessert; and coca-cola. The boys had an absolutely disgusting milkshake thing – tasted and felt horrible! They seemed to like it pretty well. Anyway, it was fun! There were probably 20 pages of menu items. We spent maybe $20 for all 6 of us! It’s like a mystery dinner when you order and you wait for each thing to come out (they don’t bring everything out at once) and you are surprised by what kind of food it is!

We have been packing to move – what a pain! We have way too much stuff and it’s not packed well at all. We will definitely do better for when we head to Almaty. Hopefully we will have a lighter load by then but we’ll see. We still have all of our donations and gifts to distribute.

The hotel computer is down so I’m not sure when we will get a chance to post which is a bummer but we will keep up with the blogging and post them all as soon as we can. We will also try to post some pictures of our trip so far (but not of the boys - yet!) – they takes so long that we haven’t really been able to but we will try maybe tomorrow.

Our time to visit Calvin has been moved up an hour so we will leave in about ½ hour to visit him and move in to our apartment where everything is new. :) We have to pay for one week’s rent up front so we have to get more money exchanged so we can pay in tenge. We will miss this hotel – everyone is so nice that works here and they are so familiar with working with adoptive families. They make copies for us and are so excited when the kids come to the hotel when court is finished. Sadly, they likely won’t get to meet our boys. We could not have asked for a better place to begin this journey in Uralsk.

Well, we had a good visit with Calvin. He had has snack and played with lots of toys. He especially liked these tubes that stretched and contracted. He was still a little grouchy today but overall was happy and playful. He is intrigued by putting things in a bag or box and then emptying it again. :) He is so fast! He especially loves it when Daddy flies him all over the room. He let me read him a couple of books but not all the way through. His eyes are so expressive and sweet. He has long lashes also but they are thinner then Patrick’s. We still can’t believe how tiny he is!

After visiting, we went back to the hotel for our many bags. We helped the other two families move into their apartment and then our driver took us to ours. Let’s just say I cried for just about the first time since we’ve been here. This is not a good situation for us. We have no place to put our things…the lady has stuff everywhere and we were hopeful she would clean it out but no. She even left her stuff all over the bathroom. It’s very frustrating and very difficult. We have to have the boys stuff out to sort through twice a day to get it together for visits plus our own things. Not to mention the fact that it is musty and awful smelling. We are going to try and buy some candles tomorrow just to help. The lady is very nice and wants us to be happy here. :) We will try. She showed us again how everything works and told us her life story. Our translator could barely keep up. Our driver and translator (Igor & Almira) left and the lady stayed a good 20+ minutes trying to gather her things all the while talking to me in Russian and showing me everything again. This has been a tough evening. We are also concerned that this is not a very safe environment for the boys so we are hopeful we will not have to stay here too long after we get custody of them. We want to move back to the Pushkin ASAP but aren’t sure that will be possible…it might be rude to even ask. We would actually count our losses in favor of the hotel.

So keep us in your prayers. I think this is maybe the first time we have both felt horribly homesick. The boys keep us going! God is faithful and we know this is just part of the journey.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Toilet Update

By the time we went to bed last night, we had begun to think the toilet problem had worked itself out.

Alas, it had not.

The whining woke both of us early this morning (5:30 ish?). It continued through the day, but I began to suspect that it is actually the shower causing the problems / noise. As soon as the water in the shower turns on, the sounds stops. So if it continues, we may have the “peaceful” sound of running water in the background – a slow shower flow :)

Day 14 - & Pre-Court News

Today dawned a bit cloudy but turned out beautiful! We have not had any rain since we arrived (just a 5 minute drizzle one day) but it has cooled off a bit.

First news first, we have pre-court on Monday! We are quite happy about this and hope that final court will be scheduled shortly thereafter. We learned that we will have separate court proceedings for the boys since they are from different baby houses. I believe these will be one right after the other. We are so excited!

We met with Patrick’s doctor today and just received the general run down of his health. Basically, nothing to worry about – aside from occasional colds he is very healthy. He crawled at 8 months, walked at 13 months, and had his first tooth at 7 months (he has about 8 teeth now). He currently weighs 10 kilos 100 grams – about 22 lbs! He is nearly 3 kilos (6.6 lbs.) larger than Calvin and is 3 months younger. Yeah, he’s a little chunk! :) He was super happy today and came running to me when we arrived. Our translator was with us today and commented on his beautiful eyes. They are unbelievably stunning (not that we are biased :) and he has very long, thick eyelashes. He turns 14 months tomorrow. His birthday is July 29. They asked us what we will name him and so the caregivers started to call him Patrick…very nice of them! We brought some medicine for his cold and we had bought some the doctor wanted him to have – well, they took all that we brought and asked to use it for all the children. We said sure but I’m kicking myself for having brought the saline spray little noses. Calvin really needs it and I only brought one bottle which I will never see again. Oh well, hopefully we will be home before too long.

We spent time packing today to move to the apartment. The hotel is buzzing with preparations for next week. We wonder who we cross paths with and don’t know it. “They” (whoever that is) have commandeered our phone line for something (computers, security?). I guess the hotel said they will come and find us if anyone calls. After receiving a call in the restaurant, I believe them!

Okay, we are ready to move now! We came back from visiting Calvin and there were two police officers at the door of our hotel. Our translator turned around and looked at us and said she would watch for us to go in. We headed to the door and they wouldn’t let us enter. We were with another couple and we all showed our room keys. Ilmira had to get out of the car to talk to them for us. They wanted us to open our bags so they could search them. We only had our diaper bag but it had some important things in it besides baby stuff…thankfully they did not dig around. They let us go inside but detained the other couple a little longer. So we aren’t sure who is here at the hotel. We know the president of Russia is not supposed to be here until Monday.

Calvin was not a happy camper today. He was screaming before we even picked him up – we could hear him. He did not seem pleased to see us at first and threw a huge fit. We have no idea why except that he was thirsty and we suspect he does not like the fact that we leave him each day and only see him once a day. He did pretty well and played with toys and had his snack but at the end he became very angry again. When Andrew dropped him off, he started screaming and crying immediately. Not sure what’s going on in that little head. We really just want to get him into a stable environment. I think it’s really hard on the kids to constantly be left. We feel so bad for him – we have such a great time for most of the visit and feel awful when he gets so upset.

Tonight we had Marie and Tomas from Oregon for dinner. They are adopting a baby boy. I made meat and potato stuffed tortellini type things (from the freezer) with a red sauce to which I added sautéed onion and carrot. Everyone seemed to like it! We also had sheep cheese, Swiss cheese, pomegranate, kiwi, orange, and bread. It was so relaxing and nice. We are all looking forward to pre-court on Monday!

We hope to continue with our blogging but aren’t sure what our access will be when we move to the apartment. So please bear with us. We still will love to hear from you and will do our best to keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


We are still completely unable to access our guestbook on our website so please comment on the blog. You have no idea how much we enjoy hearing from people so please keep the notes coming.

Of Whining Toilets and Happy Boys

Okay, so Andrew is a little jealous I’ve been writing all the entries. :) So I’m relinquishing my writing just for one night so you can get his perspective. :) The only thing I will say is that our toilet is whistling and I don’t know if I will be able to sleep. The hotel says they can’t fix it, that it has to do with the water pressure. Wow, it’s annoying!

Andrew now: Everyone’s either moving out or about to. The Pushkin is closing to everyone except members of the visiting presidents’ entourage. I’m not sure, but President Puten of Russia may be staying here – in our room, even? They better fix the toilet before then!!

Anyway, one family is flying to Almaty tomorrow, their process nearly complete. Another family and their two little boys (6 and 4) are moving to their apartment tomorrow, one day early, because they’ll have more room there. All parties involved will likely be happier; they’ve done okay and had lots of fun in the last 24 hours, but I know they’ll be delighted to have more room than in their hotel suite! The rest of us are moving out on Friday.

We’re thinking a lot about our apartment and what it will be like for ourselves plus two little boys. Our suite probably wouldn’t be the greatest with our ceramic tile floors (the first time Calvin banged his head on it would probably be the last time he tried, but I can only imagine blood everywhere) but we’re a little concerned about the apartment, too. Alaina described it some, as well as its owner, but think of it this way – we’re moving out of a relatively bright, streamlined suite into an apartment of three rooms, a little dark. There’s stuff everywhere. She said she’d put the china up off a low shelf to the top of the cabinets and clean up the tiny toys, but I am still concerned it may not be very baby-proof. (But grandparents, don’t worry – we’ll watch them like a hawk!)

(By the way, the toilet continues to whistle / whine; it’s almost like a distant rotary hammer drill boring through concrete. Nice. The landlady did promise repeatedly that the apartment is quiet, so that aspect at least will be nice.)

Both boys were great today. Patrick laughed a lot today, in part because Alaina was tickling him so much. He loves being tickled. He likes his food, which I give to him (helping to build trust and attachment with me) but he doesn’t get mad when there’s no more of it, like Calvin often does. Our main driver / attorney came today to take pictures of him. Patrick was great for the family photo and front view, but didn’t want to cooperate for the profile photo. Every time he heard the camera warm up, he’d turn his head to look at the camera and “ruin” the shot as the flash went off :) We finally managed a decent shot when I took our camera and took pictures from the front of him at the same time! Like yesterday, Patrick didn’t want to go back to his caregivers, which made us feel happy!

We normally share the play room with another family when we visit Calvin, but they were delayed in making it to today, so we had about ten great minutes with Calvin all by ourselves. He was in pretty good spirits today; he didn’t laugh as much as some days, but he didn’t get upset much, either. It’s so much fun to watch him discover things – for example, how to pull our three-dimensional puzzle apart, or the delight of riding a rocking horse. He squealed with delight as I pushed him around the room on a big truck, pausing once each lap for Alaina to give him a drink (and to give Daddy a break!)

As I mentioned above, Calvin loves his food. Today we gave him a teething biscuit and he tore into it. Half of it was gone in less than five minutes. After that, he slowed his pace a little. The next quarter took probably ten minutes, and the next eighth another ten. The very last little bit, probably one-sixteenth of the whole, lasted in his hand for a long time; he just didn’t want to eat that last little bit . . . it finally disappeared in the last minute of the day :)

One of the cool things about our time here in the Pushkin is that the five families who have been here our whole time have become like family. We all have suites on the third floor, and often through the day we leave our doors open and people go up and down the hall visiting. We share all kinds of things with each other – DVDs, chargers, food, baby clothes, advice, encouragement, etc. It’s really cool.

Tomorrow morning our paperwork will be filed with the court and we should get our first court date!

(The toilet is still whining. It’s terrible!)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

12 Days & Counting

My Mom called last night which was awesome! The funny thing is, they brought the phone to us downstairs. :) I guess when it rang into our room and we didn’t pick up they decided we might be in the restaurant. So, we talked to my mom at dinner. Yeah, it’s a small establishment.

Patrick is sick. He doesn’t act like it – he still laughed and talked and played. But his eyes and nose are runny. It’s clear but constant, no fever. When we arrived this morning, the baby house doctor was in his room and before they would let me hold him, they did this awful treatment. I don’t know what it was but Patrick hated it!! They held up this blow-dryer looking thing and then this bright, yellowy light was shined on his nose and face for a certain amount of time (not sure how much). The poor kid practically jumped into my arms after that. He is a typical kid in that he doesn’t like to have his nose wiped by anyone! Please pray he gets better. I hesitate to take anything in to treat him with since I have no idea what they are giving him (he also smelled like menthol). Patrick has discovered the popper – they have an old, gross one at the baby house and he loves it. He wants me to hold and cuddle him but not without this popper attached to his arm. He is so good at walking and balancing himself. He definitely wanted to stay with us today which we take as a very good sign. :)

We had quite the adventure this afternoon. We asked our driver, Vadim (pronounced Va-deem), to take us to the Atrium and then we would walk back to our hotel. We then headed past the Atrium to this huge outdoor market (kind of like a flea market meets green market). We walked around for about 1 ½ hours and bought a few things. We found some cucumbers and kiwi which we were really happy about. They don’t eat much green around here except parsley – yuck! The whole experience was quite fun except for one building. It was the meat market and it smelled so bad and everything looked so disgusting, I thought I was going to throw up! There were just tables and tables of cuts of all kinds of meat. There were huge pieces hanging and nothing refrigerated – no air conditioning even. Makes you not want to eat meat here at all but you know, as long I don’t have to look at it and smell it… We haven’t had any trouble eating it so far! We took a “new” route home and we probably won’t repeat it. It was a little scary but not too bad. We stopped at another store to buy a loaf of bread and some butter for a total of 65 tenge (the exchange rate is 125.5 tenge/ $1) – so that was pretty cheap.

Calvin also was not feeling the best today. He was very hot though I don’t think he had fever. He was definitely Daddy’s little boy today. He had a great time looking out the window and flying around the room. He was so thirsty! He was a bit more cuddly than some days but definitely was mad a few times – we have yet to see actual tears. What a cutie – he loved Daddy’s watch and thought it was a great game to put it on his wrist and let it fall and to pull it off Daddy’s wrist. He devoured his snack and was furious when it was gone. We took it in a Ziploc today so when it was empty, there was no more! He rode the rocking horse again and liked that. He also wanted to stay with us and was not at all interested in going back to the caregiver. We can’t wait to have the boys with us full time. Each day without them is harder than the last.

Tonight was lots of fun! We met the 4 & 6 year old boys that our friends adopted. What sweet, active, cute kids! I sat next to the 6 yr. old and he kept me entertained. :) They are absolutely beautiful and have delightful personalities! They practiced some English but do a great job of communicating overall. We are so glad to have the other families here. It’s always good to see another one successfully complete their adoption.

Oh, we learned that the light used to treat colds is warm and is supposed to help dry up the sinuses. Hmmm….

Also, boiled buckwheat is not very good.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Another Day

We both slept great last night which is such a blessing! Morning came too quickly!

It was little chilly this morning, so we thought we would keep Patrick inside for the first part of our visit and then take him out for the last ½ hour or so. Well, when we got there, I noticed he had a runny nose. He was sneezing and snotty so we just stayed inside. He didn’t mind at all. We had a great visit – no tears today! When I returned him to his caregiver, he wanted to stay with me. She finally just had to take him. :) We take clothes daily but that baby house hasn’t been returning very many and I was running low. I asked the best I could and she understood! She brought out all the clothes (probably 7-8 outfits) and we looked through them to see what needed washed. Some of it was fine but I took it anyway. I’m just limited in the number of things I have for both boys. So I left maybe 4 outfits there. Hopefully I will get some of it back when we are finished visiting.

Some of you have asked how court will work. Basically after the 14 days are completed (on Thursday, in case you forgot :), we are eligible to turn in paperwork to finalize the adoption. The judge will then assign a pre-court date. At the pre-court, we will be asked some questions and then a final court date will be set. The final court date is when we will officially be declared their parents, their names changed, etc. Andrew will have to talk about why we want to adopt them, why Kaz, about us, name change, petitions and whatever else. We will petition the court for immediate execution (waive 15 days) and if they agree, we will have custody of the boys. We will then fly to Almaty and spend 5-7 days waiting for paperwork to be completed (visas, birth certificates etc.), medicals, and embassy stuff. After all of that is done, we will come home!!! That’s still a few weeks away though.

We had a great visit with Calvin this evening. He has the snuffles also and was drooling up a storm. He loved playing with the stacking cups again as well as the new toy and all together – wow, what a great game! :) He was not as frustrated today – maybe we are just learning better techniques for helping him deal with it which makes it seem a lot better. Anyway, we had fun. He was walking along the chairs and crawling a lot. His little tongue was stuck out for most of the visit. We are trying to teach him to give us five but he doesn’t quite get it yet. :) He also did not want to go back to his caregivers today. What a happy day Mommy & Daddy have had!

Please pray for one of the families here. We can’t go into the details right now but we are just praying for all to work out for their adoption. We are also praising the Lord for the successful pre-court for another family who will have final court tomorrow. We hope to meet their little boys tomorrow night. Please keep us in your prayers; it is very sobering to know that nothing is final until court is completely finished. We love these boys so much.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Boys...Again! :)

Days seem to run together for us – we have a difficult time remembering what the actual date is and sometimes what day of the week. Our routine is basically unchanged – we rise at 8a.m. have breakfast at 9a.m. and leave to see Patrick at 9:40a.m. we have lunch and maybe walk, journal, or rest in the afternoon and leave to see Calvin at 4:40p.m. Our evenings are usually a time for watching a movie, cooking, reflecting on the day etc. It seems strange not to have weekdays and weekends.

Patrick was fantastic today! He talked most of the time, laughed, and walked all over our little room. It was so adorable! It has been so exciting to see him come out of his shell. He barely cries anymore and for the first time today, he didn’t want to go back to his caregiver. I was on such a high! He is warming up to Andrew which is also very cool to see.

Calvin was a lot happier today…we aren’t sure he was feeling very well yesterday. We bought him a new toy which he really enjoyed. He loves taking things apart, putting them together, and building. He did great with his snack, despite Momma’s worries. :) He is, of course, very adept at cleaning out his palate himself. Today his little tongue was working overtime (it helps him concentrate, you know!) and he was Mr. Drools. We usually put a bib on him to catch it and we were super glad for it today. He is such a sweetie!

Today was another birthday so we had a pitch-in dinner and cake (the first really good baked dessert we’ve had). Dinner was great!! Chili, fajitas, salsa, rice pilaf, chips, watermelon, and cheese were on the menu. We dirtied lots of dishes! Everyone had such a wonderful time!

Tonight we spent time with Josh & Saige, one of the other couples here. We watched a movie and spent time talking about our experience and our children we hope to bring home soon. We really enjoy them. They have pre-court tomorrow and we are thrilled for them!

This is a big week for us. Our 14 days is up on Thursday. Please pray that all will move quickly, efficiently, accurately and well. Each day is another day closer to officially being parents and to coming home!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I had grits this morning which was awesome…I brought instant packs with me and just had the restaurant bring me hot water. Andrew had an omelet and then tried some porridge which was quite good. He thinks he will have the porridge tomorrow.

Every day with Patrick gets even better than the day before. He is just wonderful. We had about 15 seconds of crying today and the rest was really happy. He didn’t sleep today but just cuddled with Mommy – too many distractions outside. I definitely did NOT mind! Lots of people and children passed but he just laid his head down on me and watched. We went inside a little earlier than usual but he didn’t care. He had a snack and even took some from Daddy (this is huge!). He walked a little and laughed so hard out loud today! He laid on the floor and wanted Mommy to tickle him – I gladly obliged. He also let Daddy tickle him a little too and didn’t cry when Daddy got closer. He was so animated today!

Our hearts feel like they will burst – we have two such beautiful and wonderful boys. We don’t know how we could be this blessed!!!! They bring such joy to us every time we see them. God is so good! We are so anxious for all the paperwork to be completed and for us to be officially declared their parents. We seriously sit in our rooms in the evenings and often look at the pictures we have taken.

On another note, please pray for Calvin. As we mentioned before, he is very small – too small. We have been communicating with a pediatrician specializing in international adoption and he has been helping us. We know Calvin is very resilient – his first month of life he only gained 250 grams (600 is usual), his 2nd month he had pneumonia and lost weight. We just want to help him the best we can. We know having surgery will help so much but we are pretty sure he will have to gain a fair amount and be healthier before they will even consider the surgery. We are concerned for him and are really praying the 15 days will be waived when we go to court so we can bring him home as soon as possible so he can get the medical help he very much needs.

We had quite the excursion this afternoon! We walked with our friends and their baby to a photo developer and had a few photos printed and then we went to lunch. We had a cultural experience. The menu was entirely in Kazakh (we had a few things written on paper to order and a Russian handbook but the waiter did not understand Russian). I ordered borscht, Russian salad, and a yogurt parfait; Andrew pointed at a couple items on the menu (he had no idea what! tho he knew one was a dessert) and ended up with some really yummy meat and a great dessert. He also tried sasha drink which is also called birch tree drink (it’s kind of a cross between root beer and cream soda without the carbonation). Anyway, it was a lot of fun!

We have decided that Calvin will probably be an engineer. At 17 months, he is a perfectionist. He was so mad when his tower of stacking cups kept falling that we finally had to take the cups away. We have noticed that he has been more aggressive the past few days and really showing anger. We don’t always know the cause but it seems mostly that he just wants his way. This is hard for us and frustrating because we are trying to be good parents but are constantly being watched and wonder what our translator thinks of us when he is throwing these fits. Calvin will be super happy one minute and screaming mad the next – and happy almost as quickly again. We aren’t sure if this is his response to change or what. Anyway, please pray for us to have wisdom and pray for him. He is such a sweet child most of the time! Oh, he loved these duplo blocks today and was very good at pulling them apart. He tried so hard to pull a single one apart (as in, not stacked :) and was shaking with his eyes wide open, straining to pull the non-existent pieces apart. It was so cute! We think we will definitely have to get some duplos!

Tonight, we will probably stay in our room. We are exhausted. We’ll probably watch a movie and relax. We aren’t too hungry after our big lunch so will probably just have something light. Keep in touch – we’d love to hear what’s going on with you!

***I write these posts throughout the day so if they seem disjointed, I apologize. It’s easier to remember things if I write as the day progresses. :) ***

Friday, September 22, 2006

Day 8!

Last night, we (meaning Andrew) gave the waitress quite the run around. So much so, that she laughingly handed him the phone and told him to call the front desk because she didn’t understand. He called there and they told him to go ahead and come up to the desk. With menu in hand, he headed up there with the waitress to figure out the front page/specials on the menu. All 3 of them returned shortly and the waitress and front desk clerk headed to the kitchen to talk to the chef because they could not agree on how it worked. :) Finally, they returned and told him how the meal worked and what it cost. Andrew ordered something else…just kidding! :) It was delicious – I tried it!

We visited Patrick this morning and followed our usual routine. We didn’t bundle him up quite so much – instead we brought out a blanket for his nap time. It only takes him about 5 minutes to fall asleep and we pretty much wake him up when it’s time to go inside. He was ready for his nap a little earlier than the past couple of days. We really enjoy this time to pray for him and to just talk and spend time outdoors. He almost came to me when I arrived today but there was a little bit of crying. :) He perked right up after we got him ready to go out. He loved the banana puffs again but doesn’t want anything to do with the sippy cup or bottle except to throw them. He buried his head in my lap while we were playing today and just laid there and let me rub his back – so sweet. When our time was up, Patrick wanted to go to the caregiver but turned around and gave me a big smile! So precious! Each day it is getting harder to leave him – I can’t wait until he is officially ours and we can bring him home with us. One and a half hours is not enough for Mommy and Daddy to see their boys!

We found out after visiting Patrick that we will need to only visit Calvin for 45 minutes today – talk about breaking our hearts. We have to go and see an apartment to move into next Friday and we must be there at a certain time. We are very sad to not spend more time with our clown but will make the best of the time we do have. He probably will spend most of that time eating banana puffs! :)

For lunch today, I made fried potatoes & onions with a little dried beef thrown in. It was so good! We also had yogurt, grapefruit juice, and a strange little bread thing (we didn’t really like it). We think we will cook something with carrots tonight. I wish I had brought some little beef bouillon cubes – they would be wonderful for flavoring boiled vegetables. We are trying hard not to take a nap this afternoon – sleeping at night is hard enough without that. :)

Later. Okay, so we lied about cooking tonight. :) We had dinner with one of the other adopting couples. The hotel restaurant is good, not too expensive, and we get a 25% discount. We sat and talked for awhile before dinner and then decided we were too tired and hungry to cook. We know we will only be here at the hotel for one more week and then will be cooking full time in our apartment – I’ll get to the apartment in a minute.

We only were able to visit with Calvin for about 40 minutes today…he looked so sad when we headed back inside. He practiced walking today and had snacks and juice water. He likes being outside except for the fact that we either have to hold him or he has to walk. He doesn’t like walking very much – only when there is something he really, really wants! He is in the throwing stage so he threw the book we were looking at and threw the bottle. He is always happy to see us! He seems to really liking touching noses & foreheads and looking into our eyes while we do that – so adorable! When they brought Calvin to me they asked if I had a diaper (I should have been warned!). I usually change him and said yes. His diaper was soaking wet and poopy (our first :) – I felt bad for him. Daddy tried to run away because of the smell. :) His diaper rash is looking better.

Now, the apartment. We went to approve a place for us to live when the presidents are here. It is a small place with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living/dining room. It will work but we have been spoiled here at the hotel having our laundry done, breakfast etc. There is no shower curtain – just a tub with a handheld shower head. There really aren’t beds just a futon type bed and sofa bed. The landlady currently lives there but will move out for us – she probably makes more off us than she would normally make in a couple months. She is a 67 year old red head (from a bottle) that loves to talk! She went on and on to us in Russian. Our translator was laughing so hard she had to turn away from the lady so as not to be rude. :) The landlady told us basically everything was new, she trusted us, she would move all the crystal so the boys won’t break it, that her son had a baccalaureate degree, she has 2 daughters, she has 4 grandchildren… She wanted to know if we liked the place and wanted us to know that it was safe, good, quiet, everything new… :) She flushed the toilet to show me how it worked and turned on the water in the bathroom. Very nice, very funny. She pointed to a mat written in Russian and said we are welcome. She said if her son was here he could speak English to us. She was very eager for our business. :) We think we maybe had 1/3 of what she said actually translated because she rarely stopped for our translator to tell us what she had said. Our translator almost fell on the ground laughing as we left and especially when we were out of earshot of the landlady.

So that, in a nutshell, was our day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


We woke up this morning and headed down to breakfast. Andrew tried to order pancakes (bliny) but evidently they don’t serve them. It’s become quite the joke between the families – one gave us syrup so now I will buy some pancake mix at the store. Instead he had fried eggs and bacon. I just eat a little off his plate and drink coffee. The hotel staff don’t seem to care – we only get one free breakfast and all the couples just share with their spouse. Usually everyone orders ham and cheese omelets – they probably think that’s all Americans eat. :) Little do they know I can never get them folded right when I make them. :)

You are all probably tired of hearing about the details of our visits with the boys but that is the highlight of each day! :) We, of course, think our boys are the cutest, sweetest, and smartest kids in the whole world and everything they do is noteworthy. :)

Patrick was excellent this morning. He seems to like our new routine and is so happy after his nap. He really liked the banana puffs today. Our driver came into the room we were playing in to let us know he was back and Patrick backed up into my lap for safety – very sweet! He met another family here today and buried his head in my shoulder. :) He didn’t cry at all except when we first got there. When our time was up, I took him to the caregiver and he went to her but when I told him goodbye in Kazakh he reached out and touched my hand. He kept looking back at me as I was leaving – it’s so hard only seeing the boys once a day but we are glad for the extended time!

This afternoon we prayed with another couple headed to court to finalize their adoption. Their little boy is so cute and they are wonderful parents. We are so happy for them! We met them before we came here (online) and really enjoy them. We will be sorry to see them leave but are so excited for their family! We just returned from their room and everything is great…they pick up their baby in a little bit! We are thrilled – the 15 days were waived so they will be here only 1 more week. **On a side note: we tried very hard to find the courthouse to meet them when court let out and walked a good 1 hour without success. :) We have now seen some other parts of Uralsk. We went with friends and had icecream which made the walk much better!

We will visit Calvin shortly and think we may stay inside…since he doesn’t walk, he gets very bored outside. We’ll see, maybe we will go for a little walk – it’s very warm here, so hopefully we will not have to bundle him up in a snowsuit. :) We are enjoying the weather! It was so cold when we arrived last week but it has been in the 70’s and sunny this week. All is well – life is good. We will have a celebration dinner for the finalized adoption tonight at the hotel restaurant.

Calvin was delighted to see us! He was really into the banana puffs today and does pretty well with them. He kept demanding more – we tried a little juice (with lots of water added) but he was more into the food. :) They will not let us feed him cereal or anything – we wish we could. They also do not think he needs formula…we know he does. He loves the fish puppet from Aunt Liz and Aunt Margaret and laughs so much when we play with it. He also puts it on his hand but doesn’t quite understand what to do with it. He has a diaper rash and I have been given permission to use baby wipes to clean his bottom and then use diaper rash ointment. I feel bad for him – they don’t clean him very much because they are afraid he will catch a cold. He demonstrated his strong will again today – we have to teach this little boy to talk so we understand what provokes this aggression! :) He loved playing with a balloon (of course with careful supervision) – the other family brought it for their 3 year old son who didn’t want much to do with it. :)

We had a wonderful dinner – 2 ½ hours! (We’ll tell more stories about this tomorrow!) The baby had to retire early and we were among the last to leave. The food was very good tonight. I had a chicken roll with mushrooms and Andrew had a stew with onions and beef. Mostly it’s just nice to have such good company. One more week and we will be turning our papers in to go to court. Yeah!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Day 6!

Our visit with Patrick this morning was amazing! We had such a good time! He was upset when we first got there and when we put on his snowsuit and shoes but as soon as we headed outside he perked up. It was another beautiful day – sunny and warm enough for us in light long-sleeves, but we still bundled Patrick up :) He was in the swing for about 10-15 minutes and really seemed to like it today. Then we headed over to the “shed” (for lack of a better word) and he again fell asleep for 20-25 minutes. He woke as we headed inside and was a little upset when we took his snowsuit off but as soon as I started playing with this truck, he was hooked. He played for 30-35 minutes happily! (Our translator told us that they build these “sheds” to protect the children when they play outside from the intense summer sun/heat.) He even got off my lap and sat in front of me. He let Daddy tickle him and took toys from Daddy too! When our time was up, he wasn’t sure he wanted to go back to the caregiver. Yay! It was so awesome to see the progress. Oh, he also ate a couple banana puffs and a cookie (from baby house) that I gave him. We are praising the Lord!

We started our visit with Calvin by visiting with his baby house doctor. She is so nice! We had a long list of questions that our translator asked her. She answered all that she could – some of the questions about birth mom and dad, social history etc. she could not answer. We found out he weighs only 7 kilos 800 grams (about 16-17lbs.) and that he has bronchitis every couple of months and has had pneumonia. He also struggles with anemia. The doctor said he only gets about half of what he eats actually in his stomach and she said he will certainly gain weight after surgery. We told her that we love him and think he is wonderful. She said she was so happy that we want him and that they were so worried about him. She also said that he looks for us in the mornings when we can’t visit – talk about breaking our hearts! We took him outside for the rest of the visit and he spent most of his time with Daddy. He is really into throwing things and so threw his bottle in the sand – we weren’t too happy about that. He was still a little cranky today; I really think he is just comfortable with us and lets us know how he is feeling whenever he wants. :)

We asked to be dropped off at the Atrium (kind of like a mall) after visiting Calvin and were able to purchase a phone card. I was so happy to talk to my mom for a little bit this evening. It’s expensive so we likely will not do that very much – I’m sure it’s cheaper to call from the states to here. We also bought a few things at the store – diapers, bread, cheese, chocolate :), water, rice cakes (kind of – more like bird seed), juice (for boys and us), and soup mix. We had the soup tonight and it was very good – beef broth with noodles, seasoning, and vegetables (it’s just a small packet, enough for both of us). We really like the bread here and it’s very cheap. The cheese (we’ve bought gouda and swiss) is good and I was happy to see it so readily available. The chocolate is really good – we haven’t eaten much of it but have enjoyed it! We are learning a little bit of Russian and a little Kazakh – we aren’t always sure which is which although I know they are quite different. We try very hard to communicate well and have managed to shop on our own several times. We point and hold up fingers for the number we want of an item. The clerks just type the price on a calculator so we can understand and pay. We walked back to our hotel which is about 1 mile. It’s been a gorgeous day here and we were happy for the exercise!

Last night was not such a good night for sleep. I’ve only had 2 good nights since we arrived. So this morning I woke up not feeling very well again…please pray we will sleep soundly and well at the appropriate hours. :) We are learning to continually cast our cares on the Lord and to let go of control (especially me). When we think about where we started just 6 days ago, we cannot believe how far and how fast the boys have come! Thanks for praying, reading, and rejoicing with us.

**In response to a few comments: We haven't heard anything about the space launch - the big news here is the presidents coming to town at the beginning of October (4 of them, I believe).
Here are some stats on the boys:
Calvin: 17 months tomorrow, tiny, crawls, stands & walks along furniture, cleft palate & lip.
Patrick: 13 months, big guy, walks, lots of hair.
Neither of them say very much - mostly babble but understand kaz & russian (not sure which is predominant) . We speak to them in English and a little in kaz & russian (very badly).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Today was a great visit with Patrick! We bundled him up in his snowsuit with the hood on and his Thomas the Tank Engine shoes and took him out – this was the warmest day so far but they really want the kids in layers. He still cried a little but we put him in a swing for a few minutes and he seemed to kind of like that. We walked over to a ½ covered little building and sat down. I rocked and sang to Patrick and he sat pretty contentedly and before we knew it he was asleep (we wonder if he would normally take a nap before we started visiting). He slept for about a ½ hour and then we needed to take him inside (he’s SO cute when he’s sleeping!). He started to wake up as we were walking back into the baby house. We took him to the little room we usually visit in and he fussed a little but then played with the toys we brought (both boys love the stacking cups – thanks Andy, Angie, & Sarah Grace!). He played for about 20-25 minutes and did not seem bothered by the other kids we could hear crying or the caregivers’ voices or the main door opening/closing! When one of his caregivers came to get him for lunch, he was ready to go but didn’t cry much when he saw her. He tried to take some of the toys with him but the caregiver pried them out of his hand…he was mad!! We are delighted – each day is a little better. Our hearts are overflowing with love for this little guy!

Calvin was a little pistol this afternoon. We arrived and went to the play room where all the children are and he was in a walker. He saw me and his face lit up and he tried to roll over the threshold to get to me. :) (If that doesn’t warm a mama’s heart, I don’t know what does!) The rest of the visit was pretty good. He was a little cranky today – I think he is teething because he really is chewing on everything (loved the bottle and sippy cup), has a runny nose, and just was generally not quite as happy. He enjoyed playing some but was frustrated when he we didn’t understand what he wanted and so tried to throw himself around some. We firmly told him no and nyet (Russian no) – we can’t do much else at this point. He still was pretty energetic and happy for most of the visit! He seems to have a diaper rash which hopefully they will treat – our translator says they might. It may be due to the diapers? I tried the size 2 diaper today and it still seemed a little big. He is just so small. We plan to adopt regardless but wonder if there is anything else medically wrong. He is very bright – he proves that every time we are with him. What a charmer!

After visiting Calvin, we went to a market for vegetables. What an experience! You could buy just about anything there including fresh fish and chickens – not refrigerated! There also was fresh milk not refrigerated. We stuck with kiwi, oranges, carrots, potatoes, onions, and a pomegranate. :) Andrew also bought an ice cream bar, mostly because it had USSR wrapper (CCCP).

We enjoyed dinner here in the hotel with the 4 other families we have spent time with. The food was good – we especially liked the bruschetta. These are all of our first children and so much of the conversation is what our beautiful children have done today! It is so wonderful to finally not feel left out in these conversations. We’ve all been through so much to get here to Kaz and we are so blessed.

I feel the best I have felt since arriving here! I slept better (Tylenol PM does wonders!) and feel more relaxed and healthier. I’ve struggled with some queasy stomach and general tiredness/jet lag since Friday. So…things are looking up! Thanks for your prayers for us! This has been far more stressful than we ever could have imagined. We are really feeling the prayers and definitely are seeing God work in our lives daily. Please just keep praying for the process here. We trust all will work out! We really love our boys!

Thanks for all our notes! We appreciate them more than you will ever know! Keep them coming – we are always thrilled to see we have comments or e-mails. Our guestbook isn’t working right now so if you have posted there recently we have not been able to read it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Odds & Ends II

We do see some unusual things here. This evening as we drove back to the hotel we passed a woman pushing what looked like a refrigerator on a cart down the street, between the parked cars and the cars on the road, oblivious to the crazy traffic. Alaina guessed that she was selling ice cream out of it. I doubted that, in part because there were no ads anywhere on the freezer. My suspicion was confirmed, it seemed, when we passed and looked back to see a cord to plug it in, so I'm sure it was off and in transit!

Speaking of crazy traffic: Alaina has already referenced the driving here. It is a little more relaxed, in terms of adherence to traffic laws, than in the States (and though we could be a little more tense, I feel very safe with our drivers); drivers think nothing of passing on a double-line no-passing zone as long as there is room for three or more cars to be on the road at the same time - and sometimes even if there is not. Somewhat surprisingly, we saw the vestiges of our first accident tonight - and it looked like it was between two cars going the same direction (or else they spun around that way).

MacJohn's - that's the name of a fast-food eatery we have visited once now. The owner aspires for it to reach the PizzaHut level, and his pizza is some of the best food we've had yet, but he has a ways to go. He hails from Egypt and seems to like to talk to Americans (we heard this from another family here, and witnessed it ourselves). He also takes pride in his ability to nearly replicate any burger you can get at McDonalds (I suspect the names are related?), though we didn't try it. But it's an interesting place, and one of the few around with a menu in English.

Monday Evening

The computer has been down some – we use the one in the conference room at our hotel. We have completed the first 4 days of our mandatory 2 week bonding period. Only 10 more to go!

This afternoon we went to see Calvin. He seemed happy to see us. He loves the inflatable balls (we brought one and there was a couple balls at the baby house). He also really likes to take things out of the diaper bag and then put things in – but only his way. :) He emptied everything out and then tried to pull the lining out – he really worked at it. He is a clown and loves to laugh. We discovered his tickle-spots today, and he loved it – and it was a delight to hear him laugh and laugh.

We were a little nervous watching him today because we don’t want him to hit his head on the floor anymore. He only did once and I’m not sure if it was on purpose, he actually rolled from a crawl to his back. He has a runny nose right now and has a raspy cough (probably due to the cleft). We think he is trying to win a race with his crawling! He is so fast! I’m a little concerned he will be out of my sight before I realize he is gone. He took a bottle of water today and seemed thirsty but only drank about an ounce. I also think he is teething because he wanted to chew on everything. Calvin is a multi-tasker, always trying to play with more than one toy at a time. He loves his daddy and will eagerly go to him or crawl to him especially when he wants tossed in the air. :) He is a snuggler which I (Mommy) love! We learned today that we are probably visiting during the time he normally has supper or right before which may explain the head banging. I took 6-9 month clothes for tomorrow so hopefully they will fit. I’m still using up the diapers I bought but one of the other families, whose son is 10 months, is in size 3 diapers so they gave me some of the size 2 they brought. Calvin is small but mighty!

This evening we walked to the little store around the corner to buy some more yogurt and some noodle soup in an envelope. We also bought a couple ice cream bars which were great – really the first similarity to home! Carbonated water (or water with gas as they call it :) is very popular here so we have some of that also. 3 more families arrived today which makes us especially happy that we arrived on Friday. We definitely see God’s providence in all of that. Between all five families here (not the ones that arrived today) we are adopting 7 boys!

We are thankful for God’s leading us this far. Please keep us in your prayers. We are really feeling the magnitude of what God has called us to. We aren’t in it alone – we know that He will strengthen us in our time of need and will not forsake us. This is a blessed time and we are truly grateful for these two beautiful boys. We can’t wait to introduce you to them – though Patrick may not look at you and Calvin will likely reach for you. :) Such different personalities, but that’s what keeps the world interesting!

Odds & Ends

Have you ever had a grocery bill ring up as 3000? Tenge that is! :) Yes, this happened to us here in Uralsk but it is actually only equivalent to maybe $24 US. The exchange rate is 125.5 tenge to $1 US. We exchanged $300 and received 37,000T plus. Anyway, it’s interesting. We were able to eat lunch yesterday for about $5 and supper for about $10 – this totally depends where you go; there is definitely the other end of the spectrum! We’ve mostly been eating in our room – bread (fresh baked for maybe 40T!), cheese, yogurt, and tomato. Those have been our staples so far along with the tuna we brought. We feel like we are very busy and don’t have much time to mess with eating. :)

We are posting a picture of a ginormous ring toy! We found this quite funny. We put the chair and my shoe in the picture to give some perspective.

Driving here is, um…scary! Lines on the road seem a bit optional. Lots of honking and weaving in and out of traffic. The other day, our driver put on some rap music (in English) and was be-bopping to it; he clearly does not understand English or he would have been embarrassed. :) We think this may be the only rap song you can actually understand every perverted word and concept in it! It was vile! Thankfully, no more rap so far.

Igor, the main driver/attorney, talked to us about our cars and wanted to know if we are good drivers :) and what kind of cars we own. He pointed to one on the road and said it is made in Russia and is “no good.” He also explained to us that the Russian police only want money but the Kaz police are good.

Monday Morning

Our lost suitcase has arrived!! We were ecstatic to see it circling in the baggage claim area. It was mostly the boys’ stuff…clothes & toys. We were starting to run low on outfits – we bring a new outfit and diapers to the baby houses every day. I did get one of Patrick’s outfits back today to wash - after I asked. :)

This morning we visited Patrick. He wasn’t too happy to see us. :) We decided we were going to just ignore his crying because we can both tell this is belligerent and purposeful – he is very strong willed. I stood with him for a little bit and then sat down which he did not like but was tolerating…he seemed to prefer to just watch Andrew and I interact. He still would not take anything from either of us. One of the caregivers kindly brought us some more poppy seed cookies and gave them to me to give him but he didn’t even want that. (We can really tell the caregivers are wanting everything to work!)

During our visit with Patrick, we were praying for our friends here who had pre-court at the same time and then we prayed out loud for Patrick. Before we even finished, he showed interest in my wedding band. I took it off and he started playing with it! What a quick answer to prayer! Then he played with the stacking cups, truck and another toy that was there. He laughed and smiled! We had tears in our eyes watching God confirm to us that this IS our son and however long it takes for him to know and love us, we need to persevere! He still would stop playing every once and awhile and cry – almost as if he remembered, “Oh, yeah, I’m not supposed to like this.” :) He was very ready to go back to the caregiver at the end of the visit (we think he maybe has lunch after we leave) and definitely did not want to see me anymore but this was the best visit by far! We are rejoicing today. We know we may have to repeat is all tomorrow or even regress some but we know there is hope! Please pray the weather will warm up – we both feel that a trip outside would do wonders. When we are with him, he is always listening for footsteps, doors opening/closing, and voices of caregivers, so we would like to get him away from that. Wish we could post pictures…he is a doll!

Thanks to those of you who gave 6-9 month boy donations. We ransacked the donation bag for clothes for Calvin (who is a little smaller than we expected) and will replace with something else. This was a HUGE blessing for us!!!! We hope to get him fattened up :) a little by the time we come home but for now he is in that size and size 2 diapers.

We will write more later but wanted to share God’s work this morning and through the donations.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Today was long and full as all days have been so far. :) We visited Patrick this morning for 1 1/2 hours. He cried a little but showed more interest in what we brought and even took a little water out of the bottle I brought. He still likes to be held the whole time which is very tiring. Tomorrow I think we will let him cry it out a little and set him on the floor. He was mostly content and we had our first smile today. The caregiver gave him 2 cookies with poppyseeds on them. He ate all of it but first tried to lick the poppyseed off. :) Most of the children have not seen many men so he still regards Andrew from a distance but didn't cry when Andrew stood up near him today. So we are making baby steps. It's an adjustment for all of us. We've been told that Patrick is independent and shy around large number of people - he just seems shy in general. We can tell he is a good eater...Mommy can especially with holding him so much; she should have been diligently lifting weights to prepare for this. It's been too cold to take him outside but should warm up after tomorrow. He is absolutely adorable and we cannot wait for him to make the connection that we are his parents. We think he will be our sensitive one.

We visited Calvin this evening. He is one of the happiest children I've ever met. He was glad to see us and went almost straight to Daddy while we were waiting to go in the playroom. Today he was showing off his ability to crawl, throw a ball, stack cups, walk around furniture, and laugh! He laughed so much when we put him up in the air and he would indicate he wanted more. He loved throwing the ball and is really good at throwing and catching. We were able to get a better view of his cleft today and it is only on the right side but is a bit more severe than we thought - this changes nothing in our mind. :) His cleft lip separates when he smiles and is so adorable! His eyes dance all the time - I would love to know what's going on in his little head. You can tell when he is really concentrating because he drools more; I brought a bib for him today. He threw a little tantrum for the last 1/2 hour we were there but did not cry at all. Instead, he threw himself backwards and hit his head on the floor. The first time, I thought it looked willful but I didn't know for sure; the 2nd time I partially caught him and definitely realized something was wrong. We aren't sure if it's his reaction to change, over-stimulation, hunger, testing us? Anyway, we will keep an eye on it. He is delightful.

We enjoyed spending time with the other families here (there are 5 total) playing cards this afternoon. Today was one of the new mom's birthday so those of us that arrived on friday went out for dinner at another hotel. It was pretty good. We had a vegetarian pizza. We also ventured out for a shopping trip and lunch about 1 mile away. We were able to get more diapers which we need to take to the baby house each day (5/child/day). I was pretty much out of diapers. The original ones I purchased were too big for Calvin but fine for Patrick.

So, we are off to bed - I guess it's lunch time at home. Hope you all have a wonderful Lord's Day - ours has been very different then our norm.

NOTE: For all you fantasy footballers we are able to keep up and plan to crush you from Kaz! :)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Interview & First Visits

What a draining 24 hours!! We arrived at our hotel at 9:45 a.m. yesterday and had a chance to shower, eat a little, and take a nap. At 3:45, we were picked up and taken to the department of education for our interview.

We waited for awhile in a tiny room and then all of us (the 3 families, translator, driver/attorney) were taken into a large room with 2 women and a man seated behind a desk and table. They welcomed us and then started right in with the questions. They wanted to know about us: where we are from, jobs, family, why Kazakhstan, etc. Andrew and I started the group. We answered the questions (they especially liked my teeth!) and then were asked what type of child we would like to adopt. We stated that we would like to adopt 2 boys between the age of 6 months and 24 months, one needing surgery. They told us no. They said we could only adopt 2 siblings. Then they said that our paperwork only said one. We sat in stunned silence as they moved on to the next lady. They began to interview her and then stopped and came back to us. The social worker and the other female interviewer were talking back and forth. They asked if we would be interested in a child with a cleft. We said yes! They told us that they thought that would be good since I’m a dentist. :) They said the paperwork was not fixed but they would make a call a try to get it fixed. We went from shock and sadness to thrilled in a matter of minutes! It’s still not for sure but we trust it will work out.

After the interview they took us to the baby houses. Yes, this is still Friday! We were very surprised to be able to meet the boys the same day we arrived. We also were super tired which made this day tough and long. We were so excited to see them but had been going for so many hours.

We met a 14 month ol first and he cried the whole time we were there. Today was better; he is still shy and cries a little and is afraid of Andrew but he was observing everything. He did not want any of our toys (or any toys at all!). He only wanted me to stand and hold him and really liked me to sing to him. He seems healthy and is a big boy! He is gorgeous. The 12 month clothes we brought fit great.

We met the boy with a cleft at the 2nd baby house. He was happy to see us and very responsive. He has the chicken pox right now – they treat it with a grass green medication that looks like magic marker. So they brought him in with green spots all over his head! It didn’t matter…he is still beautiful. He is extremely tiny. The 12 month clothes are too big. He seems very alert and bright but is just really small. They said he is healthy - just the cleft. He was just as happy today and loved playing with the toys!

We will be visiting each of them for 1 ½ hours/day. We were hoping to see each of them 2x’s/day but instead it will a longer visit 1x/day. Tonight we will see the first boy again – that will not be our normal schedule but we feel like continuity is crucial for him. So this morning, we saw both, tonight we will see him, tomorrow we will see him 10-11:30 and the boy with a cleft from 5-6:30. Please pray that this time with them will be building good family bonds. I can’t imagine how scary it must be for them. I don’t think either of us had thought about that very much. Please pray for us – it is so exciting but also overwhelming! We have a long road ahead of us. We are delighted to see God’s work and provision. Keep in touch – we love getting all the messages.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Travel Parts I-IV

Travel: Part I – Delays (Indianapolis)

We are sitting here in the airport with our first flight delayed. It was actually very providential because we were still dealing with currency issues. God has provided and we think all will be fine. Our pastor came and prayed with us and shared a passage in Isaiah (we’ll post it later) before we left and then went above and beyond to help with the final details. (Thanks so much Michael!!) My (Alaina’s) parents and family stayed late last night and then helped with everything this morning as well – even offering to drive to Chicago if we needed! We are truly blessed and could not have done it without them. Well, we are hoping our flight will not be delayed much more – we don’t want to miss our connection to Frankfurt! We’ll keep you posted.

Travel: Part II – Connections & Showers: Not the Good Kind

We left Indianapolis on our 11:22 a.m. flight at 2:54 p.m. Yikes! Our connection was scheduled for 3:25 p.m. from Chicago (they are an hour behind us). We arrived in Chicago at 3:00 and had no terminal, gate number, or seat assignment for the next leg of our journey. We could not find a monitor and had to wait in line to talk to a representative. When we finally talked to someone after waiting what seemed like an eternity (actually probably 3-5 minutes) he gave us directions to terminal 1 and told us it was a 10 minute walk so we needed to run! We took off sprinting through the airport with 3 heavy bags bound and determined to make the flight but fearing it was impossible. As we were racing through terminal 1 to our gate way off in the distance we heard the final boarding call for our flight to Frankfurt. By this time, Andrew was ahead of me and I told him to just GO! (His long legs cover 3 times as much ground in a fast walk as I can running :)). We made it to the ticket counter and still didn’t have assigned seats. The lady quickly processed our reservations and asked someone if we could still board. They said yes and there was much rejoicing! We boarded, found our seats, and then several more people boarded after us…maybe we didn’t have to hurry so much after all! We definitely should have trained for some distance running. O’Hare is a big airport! The plane actually took off at about 4:30 after sitting on the runway for awhile.

We settled into our seats and actually had another empty seat next to us which was really nice. At the other end of our row was a lovely older lady traveling with her husband for a trip on a boat to various cities ending up in Prague, I believe. She asked whether we were newlyweds and I told her that we had been married awhile but were taking this trip and becoming parents. She was delighted and told us about her experience with international adoption – her step-daughter adopted her son from Korea. Another family sitting in front of us was traveling home to India (originally from the States); the mother has done volunteer RN work at an orphanage in India and wanted to know about our adoption. She was traveling with her two youngest, 4 year old twins (see next paragraph for more on them). Another couple of ladies told us about their travel plans which sounded very interesting! They were both pianists and were taking a tour of different composers’ homes and attending the Mozart festival. They were headed for Prague. One of them has released 4 recordings – all of them featuring pieces by Liszt. They also asked about our plans and were so excited that we are adopting. We very much enjoyed meeting the different people and were blessed by their interest in our plans!

One of the twins, Carson, turned around and bent my ear for awhile. With the storytelling came a constant shower of spit all over my face. He was trying to tell a story about Superman with lots of sound effects and gestures, all the while chewing gum. I kept thinking with horror that the pink wad of gum was going to end up in my lap. It didn’t. Only the wadded up, silver wrapper came tumbling from his hand during an especially energetic part of the story. He was cute but I was exhausted so finally told him I thought I needed to take a nap. He insisted that he needed to tell me one more story… :) He also told me about supergirl but that part was a secret. He informed me I should think about it while I was sleeping. Very cute, very precocious. His sister, the quieter of the two, was a little jealous that he was visiting with me and turned around to say hi. :)

So here we are in Frankfurt for a long layover. We were able to sleep some on the flight and hope to stay alert while we are here so we can sleep for the next part of our journey. We are headed to Almaty, Kazakhstan this afternoon. We will arrive there, Lord willing, at approximately 1:10 a.m. tomorrow and catch the 6:25 a.m. flight to Uralsk. So the flight time is far from over. We are weary but so excited! We enjoyed our flight because we could just relax after rushing for the past 48 hours. The airline is super nice, even in economy class. They served cocktails/cold drinks, dinner w/drinks, hot drinks, and breakfast all on an 8 hour flight. They brought around moist, warm towelettes for washing your hands before meals. They did seem a bit confused about the food choices: Asian/vegetarian or chicken. Andrew and I both opted for the Asian but when we tasted it, it was clearly Indian. Anyway, it was good. Some of the better airline food I’ve had.

THIS JUST IN: Large number of Hassidic Jews arrived at our gate. They donned their prayer shawls and phylacteries and are singing, praying, and bobbing/bowing in the corner and otherwise. Sometimes in unison, sometimes individual. Interesting to observe and hear. I can’t quite imagine having so much ritualism and requirements to worship and serve God.

Travel: Part III – Two Words: Eat & Sleep.

The flight from Frankfurt to Almaty was rather uneventful. We really did sleep quite a bit but made sure we ate the meal and drank plenty of water. I think we watched one movie during dinner and maybe part of another as we were preparing to land. We stopped in Astana (the capital of Kazakhstan) but did not have to exit the plane. We arrived in Almaty right on schedule at 1:20 a.m. We were exhausted but so glad to be in Kazakhstan. We went through customs and did not have to declare anything, which was a big blessing.

We went to the luggage claim area and pretty quickly realized one of our bags had not arrived. Andrew searched the whole area while I watched the rest of the bags. Then we decided he would go to the lost and found desk while I took the rest of the luggage and connected with our coordinator. Evidently, the airline already knew our bag was still in Frankfurt and had already filled out paperwork but hadn’t told us. So the long and short of it is that we won’t receive that suitcase until Monday. This was one of our large ones and has most of our toiletries in it. However, our clothes are here and we are able to improvise with the things that did arrive (like using baby toothbrushes and paste for ourselves). The biggest blessing in all of that was that we were not charged for any extra weight on our flight to Uralsk. We also won’t have to pay anything for the bag that comes on Monday even though we were many pounds (or kilos) over the total allowed weight and number of bags. So we are very thankful for that provision but will definitely be looking forward to Monday.

Anyway, I met up with our coordinator and her daughter. We also met another couple who is here to adopt as well. They are from Oregon and are very nice. We spent the night in the airport (not sleeping) waiting for our flight to Uralsk. Another family arrived early this morning so there are three total families that are sharing the driver and translator. Everyone is very nice.

Travel: Part IV – Final Destination

We boarded our flight for Uralsk at about 5:45 a.m. this morning and arrived here at 8:35. It was a direct, 3 hour flight for which we were grateful! They served breakfast which was interesting but we were so hungry we didn’t care. :) I slept most of the flight and Andrew read. Oh, I have to mention that we boarded the plane out on the tarmac and had a chance to see a bit of our surroundings in Almaty…BEAUTIFUL!! There were mountains with snow covered peaks. Uralsk is quite different – very flat, not bad, just different.

We arrived at our hotel around 9:45 a.m. and have had a chance to clean up and un-pack. I was just told that we will go for our interview at the ministry of education at 3:45 this afternoon. We have to do this before we can go to the baby house. We can’t believe we are here!!!

Our hotel seems great! We have a kitchenette, living room, bathroom, dining table, and bedroom. We have 2 TVs, a DVD player, and a VCR. Our kitchen has dishes, cutting board, refrigerator, sink, stove, and freezer. We have some cabinet and drawer space. The floor throughout the suite is red tile. So we are semi-settled in our home for the next couple of weeks. We will stay here until Sept. 30 and then move probably to an apartment due to there being a meeting of Presidents here in Uralsk.

We will write more later. Thanks for your prayers and thoughts as we continue on this incredible journey.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Final Prep

Well, all did not go as planned for our early packing. I guess we will have plenty of time to catch up on sleep during our flights and layovers for the next couple of days! We have had quite the fiasco today trying to get new US currency, please pray all will work out. Our friend, April D., was a huge blessing and worked hard to help us so thanks to her! Thanks for all your notes, calls, prayers and encouragement as we head out. We cannot wait to meet the children God has for us and look forward to introducing them to you. Please keep in touch! We will love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Visas & Tickets

We have visas and tickets in hand! They arrived this morning at about 9:30a.  We are thankful Alaina was here – nobody was supposed to have to sign for them but evidently the travel agent didn’t get that memo. :)  Anyway, it worked out great and we are good to go!  We are finishing last minute details, packing, and errands but hoping to have most of it complete by early this evening. We’ll see – we aren’t too optimistic. :)

Monday, September 11, 2006


We have our tickets to Kazakhstan! See our other blog for more details :)


We have a date, plane reservations, and tickets & visas on the way.  We got the call today and will be leaving Wednesday.  Yep, only 2 days (less than 48 hours) away.  We are so excited!!!  We won’t actually arrive at our final destination until Friday so please pray for our very long trip.  We’ve been planning and packing along the way but now we definitely have to get everything together and with very little notice.  We are busy!   Please write to us while we are away on our website guestbook or under the comments on our blog.  We will try and fix the blog so everyone will be able to comment (regardless of whether you have a blogger account).   Thanks everyone!  

Friday, September 08, 2006

More Delays

We’ve been delayed again. We were hoping to have the date finalized by today but unfortunately a most important document did not make it to the embassy. It is not our fault or our agency. We are extremely frustrated. This has been one of the most difficult months in this whole process. Hopefully it will arrive on Monday and we will be able to travel soon after that. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


We have a date and it’s soon!!!!  We are so thrilled!  We are just waiting for the final confirmation before we reveal.  Please pray for final preparations and paperwork.  We have to wait for confirmation before we buy tickets so you can pray for that too.  It’s been a little over a year since we started this process and we are so anxious to bring those babies home!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

shoes: Take 2, Part 3

Andrew is excited to announce that he, too, is now the proud owner of a pair of Crocs! They were an early birthday present from his parents-in-law – early so that they could be taken on our trip overseas. He is already thoroughly enjoying them.

Of Probe-trucks

I do not tend to think about Ford Probes being high-capacity vehicles capable of carrying extensive quantities of building materials. Yet when I was at Lowe's yesterday, I saw the most amazing thing – a young man was loading three household doors, complete with frames, into the back of his Probe!

I never would have dreamed that so many doors, let alone one, would fit. Maybe he grew up in some part of the world where they think you can (based on personal experience) haul ten men, three boys, a refrigerator, two dogs, a sheep, and a load of produce in the back of a rusted out, quarter-ton pickup (sorry, no picture available).

Of Sixty-five Cents

Last week I wrote about our washing machine being on the blink.  Well, the repairman came on Friday.  It turns out the problems was sixty-five cents.  

No, that’s not who much it cost for the repair – that was significantly more.  The problem was six dimes and five pennies.  Very, very worn pennies, actually!  Several were about half the thickness and three-fourths the size of normal pennies.  

Apparently the change had fallen out of the pockets of some clothing items and became lodged in the inner workings of the machine, and caused an extra build-up of lint and string, leading to a plugged hose.  All of that prevented the machine from draining properly.  That was it!  So all that headache was due to eleven little coins!

Moral of the story: check your pockets and don’t get involved in money laundering!  It will save you money (at least two ways!) and grief.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Latest

The update for us today is…no official word.  We are getting kind of tired of this. :)  The bright light is that for the first time we were actually given a numeric tentative date.  Usually it’s just two more weeks or hopefully something next week.  This time it was actually - possibly September…you thought we would tell, huh?! :)  Well, we are going to wait for official word.  Just keep praying for us…we are READY!  

Shoes: Take 2, Part 2

Well, the advertising deal fell through but I guess I’ll tell you anyway.  Let me first list the things I like about them (in no particular order):

  1. My feet feel GREAT at the end of the day!

  2. They are lightweight.

  3. You can wash them in the dishwasher.

  4. They are versatile.

  5. Did I mention they are comfortable!

Okay, drum roll please, here they are.  I have them in brown.  I also have these in navy.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND these wonderful shoes.  You can walk a mile, stand for hours, and just do more.  I am assured that you can wear them with socks (though I haven’t tried that yet!)…it wouldn’t be too bad if the sock matched the shoes.  And believe me, once you put them on your feet and wear them for a little bit you will never want to take them off!  I know these aren’t tennis shoes but they can take the place of them!