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February 2

Hallelujah! Today was the best day yet!

Our routine in the morning now is to go and get Gulnaz from her room first. She was crawling on the floor in her room and when she saw Mama at the door she brightened up and stopped for the caregiver to pick her up and hand her to us. As the caregiver handed her to Mama, Gulnaz caught a glimpse of Papa standing behind Mama and she brightened even more. Now to go and get big brother... we walked down the hallway bracing ourselves for the usual crying. But when Mama appeared in Temirlan's playroom doorway, he looked up and actually ran over to the door to be picked up! We were overjoyed beyond words at this surprising reaction!!! Mama picked him up and off to the music room we went, smiling all the way (Mama and Papa, that is!).

Temirlan's main focus this morning was the cheerios and he didn't want much to do with the bananas that he had devoured the day before (well, not the SAME bananas he ate yesterday, but you know what I mean). He was interested in putting the lid on the banana bowl. He wanted to hold the cheerios container and the lid, but then he did not have a free hand to pick up a cheerio to eat. He would hold the container up to his mouth trying to figure out how to get them into his mouth, knowing somehow that he shouldn't just dump them in. We helped him out by picking cheerios out and feeding them to him. The concept of eating between scheduled meals and snacks is a new one to Temirlan and he really loved holding the container of cheerios. So, we have a 2-year-old with an open container of cheerios, what do you think the result of that was? Yep. Cheerios all over! When he spilled the cheerios all over the sheet, Temirlan was very intent in getting all of them back in the container. A tidy boy? That would be nice. Maybe he can teach his brother Jay a thing or two ;)

Gulnaz, as usual, studied Temirlan quite intently and kept waiting for her chance at the bananas and cheerios. Because of her age, her diet is more restricted and we haven't given her any of the snacks yet until we speak with the baby house doctors. So she has to just settle for chewing on the orange squeaky block. She has one tooth all the way in on the bottom and one beside it that's part way showing through. She is always wanting to chew on something and it's usually the orange block. The funny thing is that the orange block is not a toy we brought with us. Liz and Lou Lautman, who are visiting with their two babies at the same time in the music room bought a pack of these soft blocks here in Uralsk and gave us some when Gulnaz showed such an interest. These blocks are a big hit with our kids. Thank you, Lautmans! Gulnaz is becoming more and more comfortable with us and gives us more and more smiles, laughs and coos each day. We actually caught some of her big smiles on camera today!

Guess what I'm chewing on?


I've got my hands full, could you help me out Daddy?

A serious father-son talk. (I'm sure it had something to do with cheerios.)

I love sitting on my Daddy's lap. Can you tell?

Now all we need is Jay. (He's busy taking exams today though.)

Daddy gets his first try at balancing his two little ones on his lap at once.

When we went to get Gulnaz for our afternoon visit, her caregiver 'walked' her over to us. She barely had a hold of her and was balancing on her own for a second. We think she'll be walking in no time! Gulnaz was very active in our afternoon visit and wanted to play the game of walking between Mama and Papa again smiling all the while. We saw some of the biggest smiles ever this afternoon when Daddy was holding her. She had fun grabbing the stuffed bunny and the soccer ball and shake, shake, shaking them. She also kept reaching for the camera as you'll see in one of the pictures below. (She wanted to chew on the strap.) She took a hold of the backpack strap and dragged it clear over to her. That thing is heavy! Gulnaz is one strong little girl! Well, okay, she's not really little. She's wearing 12-month size clothes at 9 months! I think we wore her out by the end of the visit because instead of turning around to walk to Daddy she laid her head on Mommy's shoulder and just about fell asleep. When we returned her to the baby room, the caregiver was there that was so nice to us the first day we visited by giving us some extra time with her. We took her picture with her so Gulnaz will always be able to remember this loving woman. Also, we found out that the doctor is going to let us come early tomorrow and feed Gulnaz. That will be fun...we can't wait!

Now I'm going to show you my biggest smile ever!

I can just...about...reach...that...strap.

I'm just going to relax now.

Gulnaz with her sweet caregiver returning to the baby room.

We met the Dillards and the Lautmans for lunch at the Chagala Hotel between our morning and afternoon visits. This time we went to the restaurant part where they have a buffet. It was delicious and we had a fun time swapping stories about our children. The Lautmans are from Chicago and they are the ones that share the music room with us. The Dillards are from Jackson, Mississippi and their little girl is at the other baby house in Uralsk, so we don't get to see them as much.

Debbie & John Dillard, Lou & Liz Lautman

Tonight for dinner we walked back to the Kamelot restaurant (remember, the one with the King Arthur theme). They have a big menu with lots of variety: many different salads, soups and second courses (main dishes). However, variety isn't important to everyone, as Lyn proved by ordering the very same meal as the last time...her beloved Monomakh salad (potatoes, beets, beef, pomegranite and mayo!). Mike tried a traditional Kazakh meal: peasant meal soup and golden mutton with cabbage stew (the golden mutton was basically two cakes of meatloaf made with mutton instead of beef). As usual everything was delicious. We definitely won't be losing any weight on this trip!

Our favorite table at Kamelot, right by the castle replica wall.

Thank You!!!
We want to thank everyone who has sent us e-mail. It is so encouraging to hear from everyone back home and it has just been wonderful to know that you all are enjoying our web site. We want you to know how much those e-mails mean to us. We are surprised at all who are following our story. We feel so privileged to have your support.
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