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January 30

Today was our second day to visit the kids in the baby house. It started out on a good note simply because we actually got some good sleep the night before! After some good pizza (thin crust supreme) at the Chagala Hotel Restaurant, we went back to the apartment and went straight to sleep. The jet lag is better today - not gone, but we were able to enjoy the day much more without that awful worn-out feeling. We visited the kids separately today: Temirlan in the morning and Gulnaz in the afternoon. Like yesterday, both meetings were in the music room of the baby house.

We met with Temirlan for an hour from about 10:30 to 11:30. He was cautious but OK when he came in but soon got a little nervous and had a couple tears. However, using the lessons we learned yesterday, we immediately got out the goldfish crackers. Temirlan found out that he can't cry and eat goldfish at the same time and he REALLY LOVES the goldfish. So, the tears only lasted a couple minutes and he started munching on the fish! It is good that we have Assia as our translator because in addition to Russian and English she speaks fluent Kazakh. Temirlan "speaks" Kazakh, not Russian (he actually says a few words and understands much spoken to him). I think many or most adults speak both languages to some degree and Temirlan's primary caregiver speaks Kazakh to her group. Kazakh is the official language of the country.

His favorite toys today were the race car (machina!) and the bulldozer. He also liked the crayons and colored just a little. The race car makes flashing lights and VROOM-VROOM BEEP-BEEP sounds when you push the driver and he loved pushing it over and over. We saw a few good laughs as he made the lights flash and tried to touch them before they stopped (see below). It was so much fun! We always knew when he wanted a fish or cheerio, though. He would stop what he was doing and stare at the cup they were in. He never tried to take one himself or ask for it, just look at them. Of course he never had to wait long for his treat! The best times were when his hands were full and he would just open his mouth and let us feed it to him. He never wanted to put anything down. When playing with something new, he would keep holding whatever he had until he just couldn't hold any more. They tell us that this is a common behavior since any toy left alone on the floor soon gets picked up by someone else. He does not however seem to be selfish (well, at least no more that any other 2 year old on earth!) and also seems to have a gentle spirit. We have a very high opinion of the caregivers as it appears that they do a good job teaching the children to be unselfish.

There was one more happy occurrence after we parted and Temirlan went back to his group. We left an outfit for him to wear tomorrow and Temirlan heard the caregivers being told that this was the outfit left for him. They tell us that when he heard this, he smiled and was happy! What a wonderful end to our visit this morning!

The machina is so much fun!!!

Ready with that Cheerio!

Do you know that song in Kazakh?

We were back at the baby house at 2:30 to visit Gulnaz. Again in the music room, we shared it today with the Lautmans who are adopting two children from Gulnaz's group. They are a week ahead of us in the process and are having a great time with their babies. Gulnaz is very calm and observant. As yesterday, she did not cry at all today either. She began our time together sitting on Mama's lap and just watching what was going on. At the beginning she also did not want to touch any toys. When offered anything, she would hold her hands up by her head to avoid touching the toy. However in a few minutes, she got brave enough to touch her rattle with one finger and then took it and starting chewing on it. She is teething and definitely likes to chew! The rattle got old quick and she instead grabbed an orange block and held it the rest of our visit, chewing on it most of the time.

She also sat on Papa's lap and seemed comfortable. After a while she made some cooing noises and got very interested in Mama. Lyn came close and Gulnaz touched her face and mouth. Quite a good change from a little cutie who didn't want her hands to touch anything a short while earlier. She looked at daddy too and started to reach out her hand, but was not quite ready to touch his face. However she seemed very relaxed and content to sit on either of our laps. As I said, she has been very calm during both visits. She seems to be comfortable observing everything we do with her very serious expression - just trying to figure this whole new thing out. However, she also likes very much to be bounced on our knees and at one point, she changed her serious look for a little smile!

Two Happy Girls

I don't want to touch that quite yet.

I love my new American outfit - Thank You Bryon and Stacy

...And now for dinner at the Chagala with our American friends the Lautmans and Dillards!

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