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February 3

Lots of new stuff today! We went a little earlier today to be with Gulnaz during feeding and changing time. When we arrived, Gulnaz was standing in her crib looking stoic as ever. (Later one of her caregivers laughed and called Gulnaz their "serious girl"). However when she saw us standing in the doorway calling to her she wanted to come to us right away. She became a bit agitated, hopping up and down and waving her arms to try and escape the crib. We even heard a little cry because her caregiver wasn't getting her to us quick enough, but when she arrived in Mama's arms, she was all cuddles. We were then allowed to feed her cream of wheat mixed with a bit of eggs. After eating she had a little warm tea to wash it down...right from a big girl cup! (as long as we held it). After eating we were also allowed to change her--also a first! Through the whole process of eating and changing, Gulnaz was very content and never squirmed or showed any sign of discontent. It seems that she just loves to be with us, and that feels very nice!

Mmmm...Now that's what I call good!

Next it was time to go get Temirlan and go to the music room for our play hour. As we arrived at Temirlan's room, his caregiver told him "Mama's here Temirlan". He had been standing near the door waiting and trotted to the door saying "Mama...Mama...Mama"! We were all speechless and stood there with open mouths and big eyes (even Gulnaz). Temirlan hopped into Mama's arms and off we went to the music room. We always knew he would warm up to us but it still makes our day to see it happen!.

During our play hour, Temirlan was more at ease and even smiled a few times. He played with toys and ate cheerios and goldfish most of the time. Of course we lugged a suitcase full of toys half way around the world and he wanted to play with the tupperware containers we keep the food in. He liked putting things in the containers and dumping them out. He also liked holding the translucent lids in front of his eyes so everything looks yellow or green. During our play time he said "mama" several times and "papa" once. He also communicates yes and no very well to let us know what he likes and dislikes. He really liked playing with mama, but found a new game with Papa near the end of the visit. As he was walking around with his cheerios just checking out the room, Papa started playing peek with him around a big pillar on one side of the room. Temirlan liked this game and had several big smiles when Papa would peek at him! When our time was over Temirlan was ready to go back to his room, but he did say "Paka Mama" and "Paka Papa" while waving at us.

Gulnaz was more animated than we had ever seen her. She is still fascinated with Temirlan and wanted to be right down in the middle of things playing with his toys. She was also smiley and happy for the whole visit. Her new game today was pound the blocks. She had a great time putting a block in each hand and banging them together like cymbols. She would laugh out loud whenever she could hit the blocks together and make a loud WHACK! sound. Like any little sister she also wants whatever Temirlan has. Temirlan still ignores Gulnaz for the most part. He only pays attention when she intrudes into his space. When this happens, his face falls into dejected misery and he whines until we pull her back (which is all great fun for Gulnaz who thinks it's a big game). He however is protective of his race car and cheerios--especially the cheerios. He keeps his body between Gulnaz and the cheerios when she is around. Again, even-tempered Gulnaz thinks cheerio-keep-away is just another fun game and loves it.

Patiently Awaiting Cheerios

Hey Papa...She's getting a little too close. [Note cheerios container on far right , placed as far from Gulnaz as possible by Temirlan]

Mama is so much fun!!!

Always room for one more!

OK, OK. Enough with the pictures...WHERE'S THE GOLDFISH??!!

This afternoon we visited Gulnaz as usual. We think she had just been awakened from her nap as she was still a bit groggy. She was happy to see us though and woke up quickly. We played with the blocks for most of the visit, but with a new twist. Mommy or Daddy would bang two blocks together and Gulnaz would follow. She loved imitating us and would get excited when we could get a rhythm going: BANG-BANG-BANG!! CRACK-CRACK-CRACK!! She also imitated more sounds. She was trying to say Papa (or maybe Mama?) but it came out Ba-Ba. She also giggled when we would say Ba---Ba---Ba---Ba back and forth with her. The biggest suprise came when she wanted to get up off our laps. Her short little legs are strong enough to spring her up from a sitting position right onto her feet! Of course she can't balance long once she is standing (we have to be quick on the draw to catch her) but we were amazed that she had such a spring at 9 months. We even caught a picture in mid leap! (see "Launch" picture below). Finally at the end of our visit she was all tired out and collapsed into Mama's arms for some quiet time. She almost fell asleep and seemed completely content. A perfect end to a great day.

Yawn...Crawling is so passe.

Happy, Happy...Joy, Joy!!



That's it for today. Later this week we will take you on tours of the apartment and Uralsk...and of course more of the kids!!! Paka-Paka!

Addendum: Things we remembered while eating dinner...
Today as we were getting Gulnaz ready in the morning, her caregiver (whose picture was on yesterday's journal page) was talking to us. She told us that she was Temirlan's caregiver when he was Gulnaz' age. She said that he liked to watch TV (Dorothy, I think the 'Bug's Life' DVD is going to come in REALLY handy on this trip). We asked her what Gulnaz likes to do and she thought for a minute and replied..."she likes to be held!" (We had already guessed as much but it was fun to talk with the caregiver about Temirlan and Gulnaz!)

We also remembered another word that Temirlan said today. When Mama said something like "these cheerios are good, yeah?..." he echoed "yeah". It was a perfect imitation! We and the Lautmans all laughed at that one.

And while we're doing an update, we'll report on our dinner as well. We both had soup and sandwiches at Chagala. We couldn't pronounce the name of the soup even though we asked twice, but it consisted of chunks of beef in a curry flavored broth and was really good. Lunch was our old standby: salami and cheese sandwiches. This time we had Ruffles chips as well, all bought at the little market down the street. (Mike was quite proud of communicating in Russian to buy a whole bag full of groceries at the market...Even in Kazakhstan, Mike is doing the shopping! Yay!)

Plus...Two bonus pictures for reading the addendum!


Hey! What's going on over there?

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