Saturday, December 27, 2008

HOME AT LAST!!

HOME AT LAST!!




Ma-Ta made and Ermek made it home Dec. 23rd 2008. We have been so consumed with each other that we really haven't had time to connect with all the people who have helped make this family possible. We have so many people to thank - your support of both of us - has been overwhelming to say the least.

Flip... you kept both of us going, laughing and reminding us that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel and it will have the coolest little boy ever attached to it - you inspire both of us to write and chronical the events we may otherwise take for granted... we are grateful.

Marc, Barbi, Kenz thank you for letting me lean on you... and Barb - for telling me to keep my chin up... "that's what reminding is for!" .

Wendy your emails always brightened our days.

Bill and Pam, for always being "just a phone call away"- thank you.

Corinne & Steve and Sean... thank you so much for a great Thanksgiving, Thursday visits to the dealership (that I looked forward to every week!) and especially to Dan for teaching me how to speak "Rushin".

Our family of course - THANK YOU.

Special thanks to Susan & Joe and Kelly & Doug ... you helped keep Tasch sane and entertained during those long Kaz nights and days- we will all be forever connected through this incredible process - I can't wait to know you face to face.

And last but certainly not least... Uncle Jerry - who helped on every level imaginable... from shoveling snow to keeping me from totally going off the deep-end during the 100+ day absence of the love of my life and partner in all things great and small... and of course holding down the fort with Brian at GA - what would we do without you? Ermek is going to love constructing and deconstructing with you! You are family, and we love you!

It has been requested that we continue to blog - as the real adventure is just starting... we have been keeping a blog for years now on a private web address - email me if you are interested and I will send you the link, most of you already have it - but that is the place we will continue to blog for everything "family". (rhinostas@gmail.com)

Thank you for being a part of the RIDE OF OUR LIVES! Our love to all!

S. T. E.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 20, 2008 10:40AM (11:40P 11-19-08 EST)



November 20, 2008

It’s winter here!

Yesterday was court and the judge granted the adoption!
So relieved!

E’s been growing like crazy…

Last Friday the babyhouse held a big “walking ceremony” where some of the older children dressed in traditional Kazakh outfits and danced a traditional Kazakh dance. They sang their national anthem and two girls recited some verses.

Three little walkers were celebrated, E being the newest one to navigate independently on two legs. It was so cute.

He had on a Kazakh vest and somehow KNEW this was all about him. He watched, in awe, the older kids run around. I believe he’s only been around adults and other children his age. In seeing this, he let go of my hand and just franken-walked around the room, socializing, being charming. No one’s ever seen him so animated before, it was a special day!

They had a rope made out of yarn at the babyhouse, tied it around his legs, then the head Doctor made a speech, sort of blessing him, then cut the rope. I have the rope, one piece of which I wore on my wrist during court and they gave him the vest, which normally doesn’t happen. Very special.

Two days after the ceremony, during my visit, he walked to the middle of the floor, plopped down on his butt, then proceeded to show me how he can now get up onto two legs without having to use a chair or my hands…then walked, BEAMING, back to me!

Unfortunately though, the day of the ceremony, after I said “packa-packa”, he fell on something sharp and put a pretty deep gash right next to his right eye…poor thing. I hadn’t left the babyhouse at that point and as you can imagine, was horrified to see him being rushed to the nurses room all bloodied.

I held him until he stopped crying...the wonders of a rattling distraction he can hold in his hand (box of baby vitamins/aspirin). Initially they put a little glass beaker in his hand, but that’s no fun.

He’s healing well, but I’m not sure if there will be a scar. No butterfly bandage or stitches.

He’s a brave little guy. He enjoys being in my arms for a good portion of my visit these days…ever since a particular day last week, Thursday I think it was. I am so happy he is allowing me to sooth and comfort him. It’s hard for the caregivers to give enough physical attention to the children, but they do so well with what they have.

Thanks for all your great messages...I'm off to see my son!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November 9, 2008 6:10pm (7:10am EST)

I wanted to make a quick post. for the last several days we've woken to iced trees and white ground...yes, it's winter here in Kaz. In fact, I visited Kelly and her boy at their apt Saturday and it was a bitter cold walk over there!! It is cover-your-face-cold...burrr.

Well, Kelly & her boy flew to Almaty today and will be home by the weekend.

E is doing really well...he's walking more and more, but we're both getting a little bored with the same room, the same toys, the same...BUT, we do see the KittyCats outside which is fun. I don't know how to explain the white snow outside as we haven't been out since it's fallen. (nor do I want to take him out there)

They don't use salt and the black ice dominate the walking areas.

Otherwise, he is amazing me. He's watching and emulating...but really enjoys adult stuff...like my purse and the stuff in it. He'll pull out the kleenex and rub his nose and breath IN...lol...but it makes the 'sound'. My niece/nephew gave a polished rock which I bring daily...and recently pulled it out for him to play with. He loves that slippery thing and moves them from one cup to another, then fakes a move towards his mouth (just checking to see if I'm watching), etc.

Few more details (legal) that need to happen before my court date on the 19th.

Monday, November 3, 2008

November 4, 2008 7:32AM (8:32PM 11-3-08 EST)



Here is another street cleaner I spotted from my penthouse view; a yummy ice cream treat wrapper; a local market filled with stores where one can buy portable toilets, to kitchen supplies to auto parts.

The weather today is damp and cold. I can’t tell if it’s still cloudy out since the sun hasn’t come up (it’s only 7:30am), but it feels like Germany winter weather.

E is doing so well. I’m so happy to get to use the gym & music room which are attached. And we get them all to ourselves, except for the passing nurse or caregiver who always needs to gush all over E as he shows off his new skills.

They all not only know his name (I think there are close to a hundred kids here), but take the time to engage with him and never walk through without some sort of acknowledgement despite how busy they may be at the time. It is really heartwarming and I’m so glad, despite the delays, that I’m here.

Knowing what I now know, I don’t think I’d change a thing if given the choice.
I feel privileged to have been able to do this and am thankful I'm here....and so damn lucky to have met and waited for E!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

October 31, 2008



"I'm a walkin', yes indeed..."

So today, he walked...no help! It's as if he got passport pictures and it's just that time! I'm so glad it happened while I was with him...the caretakers were so surprised when he showed off to them and so happy.

And that look on a boys face....of ULTIMATE independent SUCCESS! priceless.

Here are a two photos from today...he loves those pinecones...and the second is his smug look of accomplishment. I swear I see a change in him physically since he took a few steps all by himself. ON HALLOWEEN...what a cool day too!!!

I of course couldn't take any pictures of this...I tried...and I will!

He sure got confident after hangin' out around town yesterday...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

October 30, 4:10PM (6:10AM EST)

October 30, 2008

I apologize for not writing! Wow…the days just pass and merge…

I had pre-court on the 28th. It went as expected. I was peppered with questions from the judge…from how did I choose this child to does he take to me to what the global crisis will do to my business. All questions a judge needs to ask in order to do her job effectively. But another step accomplished through this process.

Today, however, was an exciting day. We took passport pictures. A bit pre-mature, but decided we should do it in tandem with K/D’s little guy. We piled in the VW Golf & yes, travelled Brittney-with-child way…. E being on my lap.

He didn’t smile, but he’s so darned cute he could have been wailing for all I cared. We then walked around town while the photos were processing. A very exciting new experience for all of us. He did spectacularly and as we re-traced our steps back to the car he demonstrated familiarity with the scenery and car.

When he burps, he now knows to put his hand to his mouth…it’s adorable, but I think he just has fun hearing me say “excuse ME”…lol

Everything is going well, but just so slow.

I’m having Kelly over tonight for a meal I made up yet again. This is beef which has been marinating in my special concoction of secret-babuschka-garlic sauce & some of my own special adds, with onion and pepper. I also made another dipping oil yesterday…it is delicious (to me). I have avocado & tomato salad as well. I hope it tastes good…otherwise, the market’s next door and they sell pizza.

I bought a Malbec wine which should go well with this.

Today is beautiful…the sun is shining and I think it may be in the 50’s…perfect fall weather.

I hear we had snow back home…I’m sorry I missed it.

I am back to blogging and will keep you all informed with my days. I also have some pictures I’ll share as well.

I finished Johnstown Flood a while back & think it could or should be made into a “titanic” type film…the entire book was breathtaking! What an amazing story…and story teller of such a fantastic part of our history! I really love reading him.

I don’t know what’s next…I don’t have too many books downloaded to my Kindle as I thought I’d be home by now…Alfred Hitchcock type stories or Walden or 1776…idk.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday October 19, 2008 5:43PM (7:43AM EST)

Well…yesterday was a fantastic day at the babyhouse. He was beaming the entire visit and oh so social!!!

E was feeling better and we played with every one of the toys I bring daily. We played with cups, the ball, MegaBloks, looked at pictures, the little wooden puzzle & he was the first one to see the live kittycat out in the yard. Oh, it was a riot! He seems to take pride in ‘winning’…he had a conquer-grin on when he squealed first at the sight of the kittycat outside.

Although he had gas, I think he was feeling better. Then we came back in time to enjoy a snack before nap time. He drinks from a cup and uses a big soup spoon to eat his keefer…soured milk that looks like oatmeal. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I’ll taste it at some point so as to emulate it when I’m in Almaty with him for four days.

Turns out, we won’t know when pre-court is until maybe Wednesday if not Thursday. The judge made it crystal clear she had 5 days to review the documents and not to bother her until then.

So there you have it. Our boy is awesome (but doesn’t feel well sometimes) and I am counting down the days, if only I knew how many, before we go home.

OH, and I have some ugly looking bug in my apt. I’ve seen and killed two so far. They are tan in color, have many legs like a centipede, but a body fat like a caterpillar. As with spiders, I have my normal freakout with a scream and many blows with a shoe until it doesn’t even look like a bug; only to pull out the extra strong cleaning supplies to erase the scene. Self defense. The creepy part is I’ve seen only one/day, in the AM, for the last two days…both coming out of my bedroom…

…I am telling you, the fun never ends…

Today we visited the babyhouse early in order to arrive in time for the ‘lottery’ at the Mega-Gros (the BJ’s sized supermarket). Two and a half hours in the cold and no, none of us won the TV…or any of the prizes for that matter. I took a bath in my rusty water and thawed out…feel much better & am about to enjoy the rest of the evening with my book.

The visit, however, was short…E had to be woken from his nap & we played ‘mellow’ until the rest of the gang woke up and they all sat on the ‘potty’. Everyone was cranky so the caregivers had to sing a clapping sound to stimulate them. Anya, who has always engaged in my peeka-boos and clapping games when E would want no part of it, was the happy gal on the potty clapping to the beat of the caregiver. E was NOT a happy boy…lol.

Packa-Packa!

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 17, 5:47PM (7:47 AM EST)

I do not like cottage cheese…

I love the texture and optimistically try it as often as I can (as I do olives), but the taste is something I’m not able to acquire…yet.

But…fried cottage cheese…now that is a delicious treat! I had it last night & enjoyed it so very much. I’m a big cheese cake lover. This taste resembles that of the edge of a no-crust cheesecake…you know, the side that’s browned from the baking…

What a wonderful surprise. The first dessert here I would have any time!

Anyway…today was a good day again at the babyhouse. Little E, however, isn’t feeling that well, I don’t think. He’s not smiling the way he has the last several weeks and seems overly agitated. And he had diarrhea just yesterday or the day before…can’t remember, all the days seem to merge lately.

I don’t know if it’s his stomach…or if it’s something else. My adult overly-sensitive mind is flashing on the kid isn’t seeing any change…we met, he advanced so much, but now, it’s part of the same ol’ routine…how am I his mother when all I do is visit for a short time during the day, for what seems to be ‘forever’ (to me too little guy, to me too!--even though it's been less than 2 months...shouldn't a mother take him out of this place)? Maybe I’m just the new ‘caregiver’ during that time…?

I understand his frustration…we can’t really do much indoors and our limited outdoor time is now wrapped up in so many layers…what’s fun about that? Another lap around the babyhouse…fun.

He doesn’t seem to want to walk much anymore…what’s the point?

It saddens me to see this, but I also know his stomach wasn’t right the last few days.

So he’ll go crawl off to somewhere and just lay around…he seems to be at peace when he can isolate himself…protection? I’ll watch him do this & I catch glimpses of him looking at me…I’ll wait for a little, then pick him up and show him our photos again…He likes flipping through them and points to Mr. P, the “kittycat” “Ava” “Maggy/Scarlett” & “AJ” a lot. It’s where the pages easily flip open to. Then we’ll engage with the outdoors again at the window. I’ll stimulate him enough to forget about his doldrum, and he’ll chat away. (I flash on Milo’s adventures in The Phantom Tolbooth)

The old tricks to make him laugh seem to be getting old though.

So I don’t know…is he not feeling well physically or is he sad with less hope?

Despite my little fears, he’s doing fine…just not in the best of moods…even the caregivers have said so.

He does try to communicate with me with his open-n-shut palm motion…or high-five.

I would love to take him out of there and show him that this isn’t his life…

Good byes seem harder…I know he gets cranky since it’s snack and nap time, but today he reached out to me, then cried but wouldn’t Packa-Packa—boredom? sadness? Despite his agitation, he doesn’t seem to want me to go either…

Hopefully he feels better tomorrow.

They keep children here until they’re 3 yo then move them to another orphanage in a different town. My liaison has been there and said that the children come up to her and ask her if she is there to adopt them. Heartbreaking.

In a normal scenario, I’d have had my final court date & await the passport documents. K&D’s little guy seems oblivious to this time warp…but he’s 6 months younger.

E is a processor…a thinker…an old soul.

We found out who my judge is today. A woman, but a different one than K&D’s. This one has had a history of using the maximum time allotted by law…I hope we can convince her that it is best for the child and his health that we get him to the USA as soon as possible…within all the rules & requirements of the law, of course!

Monday I hope to know when my pre-court is.

My washing machine isn’t rinsing my “Persil” laundry detergent well…and not spinning lately. But the cutest view I have right now is seeing these little shirts hanging outside my window on the clothes line to dry…omg, I can’t stand it. LOL I don’t want to take them down, they’re so damn cute. I left some pants, a onesy and some OshKosh socks with treads on them for 3 days on that line because I loved looking at them.

Weather’s getting cold…Kelly’s making chili tomorrow & we’ll have another Scrabble night. I’m 3-1 so far.

Can’t wait to hear about the Chili-cookoff tomorrow back home!!!!

I’ll be thinking about you guys all day long!!!!!! Very fun!!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October 14, 2008



Here you see the change in 3 days…the first day was very warm…but then it dropped 50 degrees and got windy & cold!

Little E wants so much to talk & walk…but sure gets frustrated when he gets tired…he doesn’t go down for a nap easily…this will be loads of fun on the trip back home  I think Ma-ta will be the one who won’t get to rest…

So….I finally had the urge to read…the weather is wet and cold and the sky gets dark early. I brought a Kindle…Amazon’s electronic book onto which I downloaded some books. Sunday I read Stephen King’s “The Mist” and yesterday almost finished “The Kite Runner”

Now THAT guy is a fantastic storyteller! I am so thrilled I finally decided to try that book…it’s been out for a while & got such great reviews…but I was skeptical, because so did Wally Lamb’s “She’s Come Undone” and it was painful to get through the first 75 pages…not because of anything in the story…I felt like I wasted money and good paper for a book I never finished. I’ve read books or put down books I didn’t like. This happened 10 years ago and I really don’t know why it bothers me still. I think it’s because I was so excited to read it…and was disappointed my tastes weren’t in line with thousands of other readers who excitedly chatted about it in their book clubs over tea and pastries across the Oprah Nation. I’m just not that kind of girl I guess.

The Kite Runner…This is a book unlike any I’ve read…or wanted to read. The Muslims here are, I believe, mostly Sunni’s.

Next up, probably another David McCullough novel…I’m feeling very patriotic these days.

So much is happening all around me (all of us)…it is inspiring. Frustrating at times, but oh so very inspiring. In times of trouble and stress…there are those who step up, step out or step down. I’m so proud to be an American and so thrilled to be on the path to motherhood in a world today most are scared to thrive in…but these little guys, our children now have a clean slate. We became a great country by our entrepreneurial spirit, passion and guts to get it done when no one else did. Today, new rules are being formed, new jobs are needed and now we will harness the new leaders of our country and companies to correct some of our gluttonous actions, break free from our sloth-like work & lifestyle habits we’ve formed…and thrive as Americans.

What wonderful real life lessons we can share…and teach…and inspire…and of course, learn from!

The age of free money and sloth-acceptance are over…I was more scared to raise a child in that glut we seem to be paying for today…because all it was, was a façade of reality. And those who were skeptical, just got bitter. Those who took the ride, did it with the shroud of delusion hanging over them as their arrogance grew…but that’s ok, because we had a pill for that feeling

I am so thankful to have my health, my job, my family, the opportunity to provide jobs for others…and today, to be here for another purpose. Our boy.

What I'm mostly thankful for are the people who have integrity...those who are in my life, some I get to work with...who have the guts to look at themselves in the mirror and build on their character every day. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. I admire you. Stas, you embrace everyone in your world as your family & nurture them. You, I admire.

God Bless America and those of us who fight everyday for it in our daily lives by not giving up on her.

Today is my 14th day...tomorrow I apply for pre-court...I'm hoping that will come soon! They are posting Russian adoption deaths in the USA all over the news. Kazakhstan is heavily influenced by Russian news. It's awful, even if it's old news. Makes me sick...

One just never knows what will happen next...

Off to the babyhouse.....

LOL...enough of this rant...i have a job to do here...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October 9, 2008 9:52AM (11:52 PM 10-08 EST)

With the new visitation time I have, I am coming in when the kids are all on the ‘potty’. So now, E will see me and JUMP off all happy to have done his thing in the potty and is ready for me…it’s so cute.

K&D have their pre-court today…very cool. I can apply on the 15th…almost here!!!

I had the gang over for dinner last night. I’m really glad to have them around. I messed up on the rouladin taste because I didn’t cook the tomatoes with the beef…but it ended up tasting just fine the way it turned out.

We all ate on the floor in the living room while Leeza played in the middle with MegaBloks and Cups…lol…

Today is another sunny day…it’s been so warm lately I sleep with all the windows open and the fan on. But I heard it may snow on Sat…the cold is just around the corner!!!

Needless to say, we are spending as much time outdoors as possible while we can, identifying cars, kitty-cats, leaves (they’re falling fast) and doggies.

I am missing home so much lately…

Stas…you are a rock out there…I can’t be more proud!

OK, off to fold the babyclothes hanging on the clothesline…

…this is my life, interrupted.

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 5, 2008



This is my new friend, Mascha & me hanging out outside my apartment building. This is the bench on which Mr. Wendel was snoozin' the other week...after he moved from the stairs I had to walk over to get out!

The second pic is of my playgroud courtyard. It isn't Melrose Place. Is anyone flashing on "Hostel"? I can't help it. We had Jamie Lee Curtis' mom in Psycho, then the birds, then Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween, Jason, Freddy….only to wait almost two decades for Saw and Hostel to burn into my brain…

Then I think of Shallow Hal or Finding Nemo ("FLO! Where's FLO!")...I'll be ok.

Hostel II was on TV the other night...voiceover. I didn't watch it.

Tonight I will be going to dinner with K&D to either Dolce Vita or Bavaria.

I was craving protein last night. I've been eating too many carbs lately. So I bought some beef (yes, I made sure!), marinated it in garlic & mustard with a little balsamic and sauteed some squash (salt & pepp) and pickled whole tomatoes, made a salad of cukes & tomatoes. It was quite delicious...the pickled tomatoes made the taste a little like German Rouladin (sp). The only carbs were in the veggies and condiments...I'm fine with that & feel so much better!

It's definitely something I would serve.


Anyway, E is great! I know the 'fake' cry now...it's pretty pathetic. He watched his playmate Anya take her first real steps and Sunday she was walking the stroller. So we tried...well, we're not quite there, but he's just about to let go of my hand...
He's getting more teeth!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

October 4, 2008 5:42PM (7:42AM)

October 4, 2008

Little E fell asleep outside in the stroller…the guy was sweating in his hat & coat and 2 layers underneath under the hot sun! Who wouldn’t want to sleep and be very still in those conditions?

I thought I’d let him nap a little then take him in 15minutes early…I didn’t know how he’d respond to me taking him out of the stroller all sleepy. Well, he popped awake and played happily up through when I left.

What a happy guy.

I looked at some pictures of only a month ago and wow, he’s changed so much already! The kid is coming into his own boyhood & I love watching him come alive.

The caregivers were helping one of the girls learn to walk…oh, she was so excited.

Yes, this is why I chose Kazakhstan…sure, it’s still an orphanage, but these ladies seem to really try and teach those kids to develop as ‘normally’ as possible. They are potty trained early, know how to play with one another & follow schedules.

They were all on the potty when I came in yesterday. After meals, after naps, before bed & first thing in the morning. They do not use diapers and I have yet to see an ‘accident’. Of course I’m sure they happen…but I don’t think very often.

Well, I'm off to dinner at Kelly & Doug's...

around town...



KazPost....this is where I stimulate the economy with all the Internet Cards I buy.

The 2nd picture you see "carpooling"...and I guess the lines in the road are only there as guides.

The 3rd picture is for Jerry...the tractor is traveling to the right...I'm quite certain this isn't a Farmall...

Yesterday was a great day again...we've been having excellent weather and temps!

I'll write again soon

Friday, October 3, 2008

October 3, 2008 10:38AM

Scrabble night dinner...first pic


October 3, 2008

Today will mark my official “Day #3”. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that I’ve finally signed my name next to little B’s.

I am bringing a cake to the babyhouse…to say thank you because today I get to stay longer!!! And, I think he’s going to take his first steps. He has really opened up over there and the head nurse came close to tears stating that it was because I’ve been with him…almost brought me to tears as well…she cannot say enough about him and ‘how handsome’ he will be…so cute! I am convinced he is THE favorite…it will be a sad day when they say goodbye.

LOL, but unfortunately that day isn’t coming soon enough for B & me!

The other item in the photo is a gift from the babyhouse after I signed “the book”. Kazak colors, blue & gold, with a symbol they use often…not quite a crest. This is a pillow you use on the floor for gatherings, which is typical

I’ve been up since 4…I couldn’t sleep…maybe it’s because for two days I only had rust-colored scalding water…no cold water. I do today & the shower felt great! So today is a good day.

The third picture is my breakfast…hey, at least it feels like I’m with you…well, not really. That yellow box is honey…very tasty.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October 1, 2008


Good Morning U.S.A.!!!!

The sun is setting further south these days. We’ve had our first snow flurry…

As Stevie would sing “As summer turns to fall…I’m not ready for the winter…it doesn’t matter at all…cuz I wear boots all summer long…”

My apartment faces West…I get to say Good Morning and Good Night to you every day.

What I wouldn’t do for one of Stas’ wet burritos! A gal can dream…

Today I finally sign in “the book” and have come up with a toast I’ll make this evening:


Today marks a special day
Despite my family being oh so far away!
I’m lucky to have found such special friends here,
And tonight we’ll toast our new beginnings with a Kazak beer!
I have made dinner with a lot of fresh food
Oh, I have fallen so hard for my little dude!
He is gorgeous, charming and loves to babble…
So now on to win again in SCRABBLE!


My engineering degree is what I attribute to my literary eloquence…


Did you know QAT is a word? Yes, it is…it’s a noun. Leaves of a shrub called “Catha Edalis”. Apparently the Yemen’s chew it or make tea out of this to get high…so, perhaps they don’t drink alcohol, but they sure have other alternatives…


I’ll write again soon.

Off to the babyhouse...


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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September 30, 2008

Today was beautiful! The sun was out and the temps mild. Unfortunately, we didn't go outside today.

Little B had on a blue&yellow striped onsey on...adorable!! But the poor guy was crying and didn't feel well. We hung out and after he felt better, we played with toys inside today.

He's as vain as can be and talks to himself when he sees his own videos.

To think less than a month ago I didn't know if he crawled! Now he's up and around chatting about the world!! Amazing!

He loves his caregivers though and I know he will miss them so much. I know they will miss him terribly...they all seem so drawn to him. He has that way about him. And when he smiles at you, you feel like the most special person on this planet!

What a little charmer!!

Well, I wanted to touch base...

I'll write more tomorrow!

Monday, September 29, 2008

09-29-08

I have been having a bear of a time uploading pictures!!! I will have to do it in the wee hours.

Little B is amazing! He'll be walking before I know it!!! AND...today, when K&D left with a 'packa-packa', he waved...you know the kind where you open and close your fist (palm facing towards you)...and said "bakbak" or something like that....then he got tickled with himself, but wouldn't do it again.

So today, although a little chilly, was sunny & we spent the visit outside...we walked, had 'wild kitty' follow us around...then played with K&D's little tiger who doesn't do much but play 'bouncy-bounce' with mom & dad...he's only 7 or 8 months old. Little B played with their stacking cups...pretending to drink (they drink out of shot glasses...who needs sippy cups?) and had fun stacking them.

I was wiping boogers all day...poor guy...but they're all fighting off the new bugs finding homes inside as the weather is getting colder & the windows are shut!

We walked to the Bazaar yesterday & a snow flurry came about!! Kelly got a hat, Doug some gloves...me? hey, I'm set!!!! :) ...I just needed 'internet cards'!!!!
The Bazaar is a huge flea market that sells Armani to warm socks to hunks of meat...all outdoors. Apparently they keep this open in the winter...now THIS is where the vodka comes in!

Hey...so I may be turning this blog to private...you all know us, so I'm not disappointing anyone. S will send a mass invite to everyone should this happen...if we've missed you, PLEASE let us know!!! There is no one I don't want seeing...I simply don't want any authorities misreading or misinterpreting anything I might be trying to say to strangers who may be visiting here...it's very political and private out here...and I don't want to take any chances with people I don't know taking or manipulating any info. (so the blogs and rumors are reporting)

OK....more later!

(and me? well, I'm doing great...been hanging out with my friends....met a woman, Mascha...she hangs outside my apt with her friends...she's an older lady who doesn't speak a lick of English, but I see her all the time...so now we spend time chatting...I have a VT picture book I'll be showing her tomorrow...she's helping me with my Russian)

I miss everyone!!!! So much! I can't wait to come home!!!

It's fun here...but I miss working!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September 25, 2008 9:30AM (11:30 PM 9-24 EST)

OK…so, it’s getting cold here and I am on a quest for a HAT! Many of you already know…I am always trying to find headgear…a task which seems so simple to attain at first glance. I’ve attached some pictures for you (that’s Siberian Fox, mind you). I finally did find one I’m happy with but don’t have a picture yet…


The last 2 days have been the best days so far!!!

Little B has been a charmer! He chats with me, and wants to crawl all over the place. He loves to get up on to 2 legs and kiss himself in the mirror…then he chats a bit, introduces me to his BFF (himself) and then giggles…it’s so fun!

He is ticklish…omg

We’ve also been playing with another family lately. She’s an adorable little blue-eyed 12 month old bundle about to move to Florida. Buddha plays well with others, but prefers his alone time with his stuff.

I’m pretty certain he knows he’s a fav amongst all the gals in the babyhome…but he sure plays it cool. He’ll run a turbo lap with his walker, look up at me, grin…then run around again this time not looking at me, but knowing I’m watching his every move. If I pretend I’m not looking…he just does his thing for a bit. If I continue to ‘ignore’ him, he’ll make noises, see me look, grin, continue on. People will walk by & he expects adoration with a “hey, what’s up girl” look. It literally cracks me up & the girls here adore him!

Ethan & Calvin, both so different and oh so cute! were nothing like this kid. Ethan, all ball & all boy…Calvin, a natural chatty flirt...Dan, funny-guy…

I am missing my little men back home! Please give them “HUGS & KISSES” for me.

We had an opportunity to have horsemeat yesterday. Although it goes against my mantra for trying new things when offered a chance…I am having a very hard time wrapping my brain around it…that and monkey brains. If they ever came out with monkeys strapped under a table I don’t know what I would do!

It took me many, many, many years just to try Venison—Dr. A’s fourth of july party in 2004. and I did like it…

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Monday, September 22, 2008

09-22-08



there are no words
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

September 20, 2008...out and about

Last night we drove to this incredible restaurant just outside the city.
In the first picture: Doug, Kelly, me
Veggies (raw/grilled), cheese, bread, some delicious Kazakh sauce, Kabobs, vodka and oh yes, dancers & dancing!
some of our entertainment...
There's Doug, always a giver...


All, very cool.

There were break dancers as well...wow, they were good!

Then came the DJ & dancing. A few big parties were going on at the restaurant & the floor became packed with people.

You'll love this one: Eminem's "Without Me" song was mixed Moby-style to a funky techno-beat with some Russian...
...a crowd fav. lol

So we ate & danced.

More later...
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Written 09-16-08 in the PM (never posted)

those are curtains in the big round windows
"CHOP HERE WITH CRASH AXE"
I was happy we weren't traveling over the Chilean Andes for a Rugby tournament!


More observations:

I don’t know if it’s every Friday night, but there was a big party last Friday at the main square…with DJ, techno & fireworks! You can drink alcohol out in public, so it was like an outside party, sponsored by the town. So many people were there.

There is no recycling of bottles, aluminum or plastic. Everything goes in to rubbish.

I find myself reusing the plastic wrap I’ll get from cookies or pasta or such. They don’t use shrinkwrap here, so it’s easy to reuse.

Marlboro brand cigarettes are 100 tenge/pack (~$0.84 US). Beer is sold by the 0.5 liter and many of the bottles are twist-offs. They also have 0.5 liter cans.

They are planting trees everywhere there is dirt. A green-up Kostanai initiative (?)

There aren’t any cinemas or McDonalds here in Kostanai.

Everyone says ‘thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘you’re welcome’

They drive like crazy, but you don’t see road rage like we have back home. People cut people off all the time, but it’s as though the ‘loser’ accepts defeat…he’s not keeping the other car from getting ahead, so to speak, nor does he then speed up to ‘get him back’. No ‘spiteful’ driving I guess you could say, from what I’ve seen. And I admit to being a recovering Mass-hole driver. (in my defense, it’s the only way to survive if you live in Boston…OK fine, there is no excuse for being an ass)

Most of the cars are Russian. The main import is definitely VW/Audi. There is an even split of BMW & Mercedes, some Ford, Toyota, Lexus, Subaru & others here. Most of the city buses are fairly modern, but you still have the occasional bubble-bus with curtains in the window.

I get these annoying little fruit flies…you know, the kind that nose dive into your Cabernet. I don’t know why…I take out my trash every day and I don’t have anything exposed that they’d want, outside my occasional meal or open-topped drink. I don’t see any beer-mugs with the flip-up tops like they sell in Bavaria.

There is a beer called “Bavaria”, made in Holland. lol

As well as a restaurant with the same name and logo.

Construction workers don’t wear hard hats…even hanging off rafters 14+ stories high, despite debris being thrown off the floors. Mt. Rushmore was built with dynamite and men rappelling on ropes…a total of zero casualties.

The Russian airlines are developing one of the worst crash ratings.

I’ve posted some pictures of my plane from Almaty…a Soviet propeller plane.

Merrill Lynch was bought out by Bank of America…who’s next to be bought, GE? I’m waiting Immelt…let’s quit bailing and start stimulating! The Welch-way doesn’t seem to cut it these days…

I had my best day at the babyhome today (09-16-08).

Ermek (air-mic) was a crazy-guy today…he was showing me all his tricks. He was crawling all over (big grins the whole time), pulling himself up onto his legs using the couch, tossing his toys and showing me he can get them himself, rolling onto his stomach (grinning again), then flipping over onto his back to show me he likes to play this way too…lol…oh man, the boy was something else.

He’s been in the ‘isolation room’ the last few days and today he was dressed and standing in his crib when I came to get him. I think he’s feeling better & hope he can hang with his buds soon.

He loves to see himself on the camera. He even made some syllables and talked (briefly). Very alert and fun!

Then a little after 2, he crashed and got cranky. I’m pretty sure nap time is at 2:30pm. I’m also realizing some cries are for attention…little stinker! I’m a sucker too…he knows I’m new. I’m catching on to the little bug…

Tonight Kelly & Doug are coming over again. They are also falling in love with their little tiger! We all started this process wanting a little girls…we now all have boys…we couldn’t wish for anything different.

I always resort to the belief that it all seems to work out in the end when you keep going after what it is you want/need, stay focused and organized...and listen to the universe…I feel so lucky today…and back home I’m surrounded by some of the most amazing people I never thought would exist in my life. This little guy will be the next member of our community…I won’t ask you to love him…I’ll let him do the negotiating and close the deal on his own.

…I still don’t know when I’m coming home.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 16, 2008...

September 16, 2008 10:30AM (12:30AM EST)

Buddha & I had an awesome day yesterday! It was 14degrees Celsius, and I was freezing! But the great part was they bundled the little guy up and we spent 75 minutes outside…he loves being outside.

It’s so hard to say backa-backa! (bye-bye) when I leave lately. This was the 10th day meeting with him for about an hour usually. So I’ve spent a little over 10 hours with the boy in his entire lifetime.

I’ll be honest. I truly was not expecting to really like the little dude so quickly! I was hoping, but it was more of a ‘yeah yeah, I hope he’s healthy’…and frankly, I had no other thought or projection in my head as to what it was going to be like. I couldn’t. It was a blank in my mind. I had absolutely NOTHING to act as a frame of reference or a benchmark or some sort of starting block for my vision in thought.

The moment I met my little guy back home, Ethan…every single action of his was the cutest thing ever. I am in love with that kid! This little dude is such a dude, for one thing…and I just can’t get enough of him!!!

Here’s the nitty gritty: We don’t have a director or a head doctor still…but they assured me that if I choose this child, he will be unavailable for anyone else to see. Of course I chose him! (jack black in Shallow Hal: “cookoo! cookoo!”) LOL

So, I am going to check with Zhanat, my liaison here, regarding pictures. As long as she’s ok with it, I will start to post some pictures of the little bug on this site. In the meantime, if you still haven’t seen them, please connect with Stas & she’ll forward some on to you.

The boy is generally quiet. He likes watching and doing at his own pace and direction. If he feels he’s being ‘taught’, he’ll listen for a while, shut down…and when I turn away, I’ll see him practicing. For instance, I’ll take a block and bang it on another to make a noise. He will watch me, but won’t emulate. Later, when it’s his idea, he’ll do it, then own it! He’s a sensitive little Cancer…

Last night I made dinner for my friends Kelly & Doug. Partially. They took care of the meat. LOL. I had the drinks, appetizers & veggie dish. Patti, you would be proud. My presentation was applauded!!! I learned from the best! (I was thinking about you the whole time) And, the best part, the kitchen was immaculate when they showed up as though I didn’t do a thing in there…and for me, I cleaned as I went…painless & seamless. And AJ, I have a delicious cocktail I concocted you’d appreciate! Vodka, liquor (with real wild strawberries), lemon, some orange, seltzer…and we don’t have ice so I froze a little orange-water (no, not the orange-water from the faucet, which has toned down to light tea color by the way…orangeANDwater mixed) added to the martini glass. I usually don’t go for the ‘fruity’, but it worked…not too sweet.

Anyway, I miss you all. Back home I heard we had a great weekend. I’m so proud of the people who really busted it out that day…and all days of recent. And the volunteers and those who stepped in to help…just excellent, all the way around! …thank you.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

09-14-08 good morning


Morning of 09-14-08 (11:22AM, 1:22AM EST)

Today, I am thinking of the big day back home! I wish I was there & will be with everyone in spirit.

I have a small porch outside my apartment and lately I’ve been going to sleep with the door to the porch open, but the windows to the outside closed. Apparently, I forgot to shut the outside porch window (we don’t use screens out here).

I woke to a pigeon in my room! (they hang out on the roof right above me –I’m on the top floor—I even hear them in my bathroom vent)

I am telling you, the fun never stops over here!

On the babyfront: little B had a cold yesterday so I needed to meet him in the ‘isolation room’…poor little guy couldn’t hang with his friends. It was warm enough outside so we had a nice stroll around campus. At least when I left there was a cute nurse watching over him. As I said my “backa! backa!” or ‘bye bye’, he giggled and gave me what I’ll call his first little kiss. The nurse was so tickled by this…then she caught herself and got serious again. He seems to be a favorite amongst the staff…because he’s so reserved & particular with whom he wants to deal and how.

The kid’s got some depth…and everyone knows it.

I should post a picture of Scruffy, the campus dog, on here…he is a sweet dog! Little B adores him!

I don’t have much else to report at this time. It rained last night & is a little raw this morning.

Domestically, today is laundry day. I also made a garlic tomato sauce this morning…it should be delicious by this afternoon when I have my dinner. I seem to eat at odd hours when I’m not out: I wake up and have coffee, then eat a yogurt before I leave. Around 3-4pm I eat a meal, then another snack around 8-9pm.

I miss you all & will be thinking of you. Have an awesome day!!!
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Friday, September 12, 2008

A Message for Tasch from Pam

Hot Water 09-12-08...(kindof)


The Hot Water is being turned on. Here is a picture of my water this afternoon...well, it's not hot yet, but it's what is coming out of my faucet when you turn the nozzle to "red" (I did not do anything to this picture)

It's a big improvement...prior to this, nothing came out.

What can you expect? The water's been shut off since May.

But really, I have developed a working system for bathing with the cold water I think I'll use for a bit longer.

I left the water on for over 15minutes...I expect it to clear up at some point. Don't you?

I had a nice day at the Babyhome today. Our little buddha showed me his turbo-power-walk in the walker. He had some fun moving around in that thing. We couldn't go outside today...I think it was a bit chilly, according to the 'experts'.

Tonight's supposed to get very cold and we expect rain/snow in the next week. I brought nothing heavier than my leather jacket & a puffy-vest. Now that's thinking!

We hope there is a director and head doctor soon, however I did manage to get a translated copy of the Medical Extract. It's full of words and numbers that mean nothing to me, but of course sound both extreme and alarming...for all I know these are technical words for "hangnail" and "sniffles"

The little dude was 4kg at birth! Big Boy!!!

OH, and please let Barbi know, if she doesn't read this, that the first thing he played with during my initial visit, was the bracelet she gave me right before I left. I wear it everyday!

For the rest of the gang at GSHD...I'm hearing some great things! You are stepping up to the plate and are both a pleasure & relief to know back home. It takes a team & the community we're involved with to make it all work! Thank you! Continue to take care of your jobs, each other & our customers!!! Have an awesome weekend & have FUN!!!

(I saw 'horse milk' at the market today...almost bought it thinking it was some sort of milky-vitamin-yogurt type drink)
--I know, I am envied--

On a final note:
little buddha's Kazakh name translates to: joy & happiness
Traditionally, the grandmother would watch the child while the parents would go work, and it is that joy and happiness the grandmother would experience and feel…which is what his name means.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008 8:12PM (10:12AM EST)

o
Here is a picture of my dinner yesterday. The produce is fresh (they seem to use mayo quite often) & the pizza delicious. We chose to eat here because it's in the same building as Doug & Kelly's apt. I think our pizza was a 'minced meat' pizza...not bad!

I can't tell you how great it has been to have met those two. I know we'll be in each others lives from now on...we've already gone through so much together (and sometimes in the same room!)...

So today was a good day. The little guy is a charmer. My hesitation? Only a few minor details: there still isn't a director...or a head doctor...my name isn't associated with this little cutiepie on anything official...I haven't signed one document since my arrival. Other than that, I couldn't ask for anything more! I'm waiting on some medical reports.

The more we spend together, the tougher it is to imagine this not going through. So I think happy thoughts and continue to move on through the day.

Hence, with that out there...please keep your good thoughts and wishes coming. I appreciate them tremendously!!!

We've had some changes back home, but all in all, I think it's best for everyone exposed to them.

I gave my first little 'gift' today...some pure VT syrup in an adorable little jar shaped like my state. No time to type the report? Oh, well, I happen to have some sweet maple syrup you don't have here...oh sure, take it...how about some maple candies...what? you can? thank you so much for finding the time!

I went to a street market today with Kelly & Doug...they sell sneakers to jackets to dish soap to fish heads and pieces of meat bigger than me! It is something else. Makes the Barcelona market look small. I bought a purse. Not much into big purses, but I am tired of carrying around my computer bag...

I hope to put some pictures on here soon...I simply don't want to take any chances right now. There's been a little delay on this end, but I'm keepin' the faith it's only a delay.

OH...and we have water back, but no hot water. It will be so nice to have a hot shower...it's been since Almaty (Sept 3).

I brought boxes of Powerbars (the people blogging told me they are a 'must have')...and don't really see any need for it. The food is awesome over here! The tea and coffee, delicious...and of course the beer, turning out to be a staple during meal time.

I miss you all!!!! (and love hearing from you!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

09-10-08...12:08AM (2:08PM 09-09-08)


finally, a picture.

A view from my penthouse: 5th floor, Apt 24

Down to the left are the ladies with the produce, if you can see them all lined up on the sidewalk

Later today, I hope to meet with the doctor. Again, I hung out with the little guy for a little over an hour today (or yesterday now that it's past midnight). Time flew by.

Not much else to note here. I went to bed very late last night (4:30ish?) so I hope to get a good nights rest tonight. I'm quite exhausted!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday!!!

zwani.com myspace graphic comments


Everybody Wishes you the best birthday ever! Love - "The Harley Gang"

09-08-08

090808 11:04PM (11:04PM EST)

Today I walked over a homeless man on my way out of my building. I hear that’s good luck!

I took the morning to go to the market. These Hansel & Gretel women are seated along the sidewalk on super short stools presenting the vegetables & fruits from their gardens. They look delicious! So far, the produce here has been incredibly flavorful!!! Some have their daughters (in their teens or early 20’s) helping them…no men.

Little Buddha & I hung out, but todays visit seemed to fly by. I have only been able to meet with him for a little over an hour a day. He doesn’t say much, but the little guy watches everything.

Unfortunately, I was unable to meet with the new head doctor/director. I was told that Wednesday will be the day.

Needless to say, today was a bit frustrating on the “can I have some answers” side of things.

Nevertheless, at the same time, I’m here, visiting daily, getting to know this amazing country & meeting some very interesting people.

Yesterday we walked down to a river & saw fairly new McMansions and some high end tall apartment buildings being built. I’m extremely intrigued by this growth…in this fashion. I wonder if they’ll let me go in one…

Overall, as I interact with people…I am finding that they are extremely polite and nice (& did I mention striking?)

I apologize for not posting pictures…I am having trouble uploading them during the times I seem to be on-line.

My emotions and feelings? Honestly, I’m guarded. I just want to take things one day at a time, pray for health and the right thing to do at every chance I get. I feel lucky to be where I am today.

OH, I’m sure you’re wondering how I’m doing without water (or perhaps trying to take it out of your mind)…I still have cold water to shower & cook with. They will be shutting it off Sept 9 – 11. I’ve boiled enough eggs to get me through the snacktimes…and am still so ‘droolingly’ excited about all the restaurants I haven’t yet been to.

(I know I’m making my sister cringe with these made up words and horrible grammar…it’s how I blog. If I do a rough draft, I will mess up the candor part of it. I am trying to write as though I’m speaking to you…if I change course tomorrow, it’s because I think differently then. If you would like polished, please advise…)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Message For Tante Taschi



Lukas, Silke and Markus were visiting from Germany - Tasch had to leave for Kazakhstan right before they got here. Sadly she missed them. Lukas wanted to make her a little message so here it is. If you understand German, you are in luck. If not, well he is just so cute it won't matter if you understand him or not. Maybe somebody can translate for me? I know he says something about the boat and a motorcycle not starting - "Kaput!" thats about all I get.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Observations...(written a few days ago)

The land, the people, my apartment…

The land is flat & dry…we’re in the city of Kostanai which is quite nice.

It’s a little odd because there are some new and modern buildings, then old Russian architecture…but most of the buildings almost look dilapidated.

The weather was hot when I left Almaty, but the moment we got off the plane (which was about 90 degrees the whole way…I was half-way expecting chickens to come out from the back in a Romancing-The-Stone kind of way) in Kostanai it was as though a cold front hit us.

It is very Slovakian out here. Despite how the buildings look, the people are gorgeous! The women and men dress very modern & are attached to their cell phones. Teen aged girls travel in packs with their music MP3 players on speaker (not much has changed since the boombox days).

I was a little surprised at how up to date their TV shows were. You have the same types of reality shows and funny sitcoms put together about as well as ours, but in Russian (no voice overs)…it was nice to see. I guess technology is that far advanced, anyone can make a quality production. The people in these shows are just like us.

Both men & women wear clothes that fit…the Avril/Pink look is in, but the Eminem look isn’t. Ed Hardy would be a hit. Sloppiness & obesity is definitely OUT.

I would say that here in Kostanai, there is a 50/50 mix of Russian/Asian looking people. Quite frankly, both are striking…it is as though the strongest genes were the only ones that survived. I don’t care what our son looks like.

Restaurants are reasonably priced & they always add 10% tip to the bill.

For the most part, I feel like I’m in Europe, however it is not Americanized like Europe is. There aren’t any ‘kitschy’ tourist shops…the stores are for the people who live and work here.

My apartment building doesn’t have outside lights (thank you Stas for giving me that little flash light). The courtyard is an overgrown playground. I sing Madonna’s “this used to be my playground…” when I walk through...maybe to keep me from thinking -scary movie- "lalala". There are a bunch of cats and community dogs that hang around.

I laugh when I look at the buildings and some of the cars these people come out of…because they are so put together!

I’ll post more observations another time…

September 6, 2008

September 6, 2008: 11:15AM (1:15AM EST)

Yesterday may have ranked in the top tier of my most overwhelming experiences. I couldn’t even blog/write about it last night.

After a great nights sleep, I think I can fill you in, albeit briefly, on what’s going on.

I went to the babyhome yesterday.

I was handed a 13+ month old (07-19-07) boy they woke up from a nap. The little Buddha-belly cried (poor thing!) and tried so hard to find a comfortable position. He had a pacifier (as Calvin would say…”paci”) and snuggled in.

About a minute later, they needed to put him down for a nap. They really weren’t expecting us, so this was a bit of a surprise visit right after we got the official invitation from the Ministry of Education.

I really can’t say more than the little guy was tan with dark hair & big hands. LOL.

So really…I’ll leave my emotions out of it for now.

I am going to the babyhome today…I hope to meet this little boy again.

OH…so everytime I dial up I am taken back to 1998…the AOL days. It cracks me up everytime… J

Another funny thing to note is when I log onto my blog, except for the blogs & comments themselves, everything is in Russian…from the sign in area to the commercials on the side. When I open up my browser I am routed to Google-Kazakh. It’s pretty cool…

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday morning blog...

September 5, 2008: 1130AM (1:30 AM 9/5/08 EST)

I went to bed at 4:30AM & woke up around 8:30AM this morning. After a few cups of coffee, I’m feeling just fine to face the day.

I don’t think I mentioned this in my previous post:

The city apparently shuts off the hot water during the summer months until September 8…so I’ve been bathing with cold water since I arrived.

As tough as that sounds, it really isn’t bad. It just is.

Same with the coffee…it’s instant, but like with camping, it tastes good because that’s all I have. Maybe later I’ll go to a café and enjoy a delicious cappuccino.

Back to the water…there is one more thing I’d like to mention. A few days before they turn on the hot water for the season, they will be completely shutting off the water. I was told it could be as early as today…

“DA! isssOK! no problem, spa-seebah” –my version of Russian. For some reason I think speaking English with a foreign accent makes me more understandable. Then the Brazilian hand gestures make it complete.

To prepare for such an event, I’ve filled up my 3 pots for “water stash”.

I purchased more towels and some cleaning sponges yesterday…I feel I have all my necessities in order.

I am meeting Zhanat (pronounced with a soft ‘j’ “Janaught”) at 12:30PM at the front of the Ministry of Education. She sounded deflated; same as yesterday afternoon when she left the place at 6:00pm. I don’t think any of us slept much.

I will write more later…

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My trip so far


Kostanai September 5, 1008: 1:00am (3:00 PM 9/4 EST)

Sorry I’ve been out of touch!!!

WOW. It’s been quite a trip so far. I’m still learning to blog, so if I can’t get some adequate pictures on here now, I’ll get them to you really soon. You have GOT to see some of them!!!

The flight out was just fine…no big delays & no real issues to speak of. In Frankfurt I met the other family traveling to Kostanai from the same agency. Doug & Kelly are from Freeport, ME…really nice couple!

We arrived in Almaty close to midnight (turning 9/3/08) & were greeted by Nickolai who brought us to the Hotel Kazakhstan for the evening. It was nearing 1:30 when we finally got checked in. The hotel lobby was beautiful! Marble & chandeliers everywhere! PLUS…(Ilse, this one’s for you) there was a “Guns N Roses Bar” in the Hotel…lol. Yep, who’d of thought? Although it had been well over 20 hours since I was in Boston and over 30 since my body had been on a bed, we decided to have a beer and toast this special event. I took some pictures and hope to add them soon.

The breakfast was delicious & then we were off for our mid-afternoon flight to Kostanai.

We took a prop plane from Almaty to Kostanai which should have only taken about 2 ½ hours…it took us about 4 ½ hours. The plane was a bit scary but made me laugh. For instance, the flight attendant didn’t care if you buckled up…there were no airbags or pre-flight safety demos…LOL…there wasn’t any overhead storage except for a shelf like that in buses…what a trip.

Zhanat & Dina met us at the airport. They are AWESOME!!!! Zhanat is about 50yo, lives in Kostanai with her husband (driver), speaks English very well (Sept 4 was her b-day) & will be with me throughout this process. Dina lives in Almaty & came over for a few days. They both are reps for our agency.

We went out our first night to the Knights Café. That was a long dinner, but really nice.
My apartment building is about a 10min walk to Kelly & Doug’s place & has a washing machine. I’m pretty happy about that. I had to do laundry my first night because it appeared that there was only one towel…and it desperately needed some soapy attention.

At that point it is about 1-2am the morning of September 4…earlier today I guess you would say. We were supposed to go to the ministry of education with Zhanat to get permission to visit the babyhome. This never happened.

Apparently, the director of the babyhome for 10 years abrubtly ‘retired’. No one knows what is going on. Zhanat has been at the ministry of ed all day & got no where. She is really upset about the whole thing…and really surprised.

I am at a loss & don’t know what to do right now. I even bought diabetic strips for the Dr. No one knew this was going to happen…even her.

She does live near my apt…I may have to track her down.

Nevertheless, we hung around all day waiting for Zhanat’s phone call…then Kelly, Doug & I went out for dinner & hung out the rest of the eve.

Zhanat will be picking me up (later) today. We will go to the Ministry of Education in hopes to put some pressure on them…I still don’t know what “them” means…the clerk behind the desk? Someone higher up? I am hoping that it will work so we can visit the babyhome tomorrow.

But as it stands now…no one is running the place.

I am praying & hope you do too…I plan to do whatever it takes.

I will write tomorrow. Hopefully adding some pictures.
Picture 1: Almaty Airport
Pocture 2: Hotel Kazakhstan Lobby
Picture 3: The view from my room...if you look closely there is snow on the mountains
Picture 4: The side of my plane to Kostanai...nice!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

And She's Off!


Everything went smoothly at the airport, and although tearful and incredibly hard to say "good bye" - we did it. On a side note, I managed to get a pretty hefty speeding ticket on my way home :( Shhhhh! We never have to speak of it again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tasch and her Angel Packing for Kaz



This image was only apparent in the picture, not on the wall. I think this is great sign!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

More than you could ever want to know about Kaz

What's for Dinner in Kazakhstan? Did somebody say HORSE?

Kazakhstan - Kazakh National Cuisine
Kazakh national cuisine reflects the nature of its people, its history, customs and traditions.

Since old times hospitality has been the most distinctive feature of the Kazakh people.

A guest is always given a special welcome and offered the place of honor.

He or she is first treated to kumys (fermented mare's milk), shubat (fermented camel's milk) or airan (fermented cow's milk), then to tea with milk or cream, baursaks (fried dough balls), raisins, irimshik (dried cheese balls), kurt (dried cheese and whey).


Appetizers of horse or mutton meat follow (kazy, shuzhuk, zhal, zhaya, sur-yet, karta, kabyrga) always served with flat bread.

Kazakhs eat at a low table called 'dastarkhan' and the most popular dish has always been the national meat dish 'beshkarmak' (five fingers because of the manner in which it is eaten). It is made of large chunks of boiled meat which the host cuts and serves to each guest according to their importance: the pelvic bones and shin to the elderly guests of honour, the brisket to the son or daughter-in-law, the cervical vertebra to girls and so on.


The highest ranking guest is served a sheep's head cooked in a special way and distributes it to other guests according to local tradition (old men, children, close and distant relatives).

The meat is eaten with boiled pasta sheet and a meat broth called sorpa usually sewed in traditional Kazakh bowls called 'pialas'. At the end of the meal kumys is sewed then tea.

Today the dastarkhan gathers as well as Kazakhs many other nationalities: Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Germans, Uigurs, Dungalts and Koreans.

These people who have lived peacefully with the Kazakhs have influenced their cuisine, everyday life and culture and adopted some Kazakh traditions.


Today's Kazakh cuisine includes traditional Kazakh dishes as well as Uzbek, Uigur, Russian, Tatar, Korean dishes that the Kazakhs like.

Today, the range of ingredients available locally has considerably widened and influenced the national cuisine accordingly.

Traditionally Kazakh cuisine was mostly based on meat and milk products. But more recently vegetables, fruits, fish, seafood, baked dishes and sweets have been added to the list of delights Kazakhs offer to their guests.
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