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February 5

OK. So not every day can be "the best yet". While this was not a bad day by any means it also left us a little down on our way to lunch. Today we visited Temirlan in the morning and Gulnaz in the afternoon. The music room where we've had all visits so far was not available in the morning so we went up to Temirlan's unit (each group has a set of rooms all connected together as a unit with controlled access to the rest of the baby house) and had our time together in his group's toy room. We thought this would be a good place as he is familiar with it and wouldn't feel out of his element. However, it wasn't long until we missed the music room.

When we arrived, Temirlan was carrying a little chair to a table to participate in some group activity. When he saw Lyn he said "Mama, Mama" and walked over to her expecting a trip to the music room. However to his chagrin we followed the caregiver's instructions to set up in the toy room. Temirlan never seemed comfortable with this arrangement and did not like the break in routine. He seems to love routine and knowing what to expect before having something to do. When the routine changes...Watch Out! Actually we knew to expect this as he has lived his whole life by the baby house schedule. The caregivers are very organized and do everything on schedule -- a necessity when there are so many little people's needs to meet. In addition to being uncomfortable with the break in routine, Temirlan could hear the other children as they participated in the group activity and the caregivers interacting with them. So the bottom line is that he wanted out with them more than he wanted to visit with us. It's not that he was afraid of us or didn't want us around, he just wanted to be doing other things.

We played for a little while, mainly with a whack-a-ball toy and with some little plastic things that look like molecule models for babies. But then he climbed onto a little riding truck and wanted to open the door and ride it out into the room with his friends. When we wouldn't let him open the door, he immediately started crying and began throwing a mini-fit to get his way. We finally had to give in and open the door for him, and that helped a bit. He even said something to his little friends that gave us the impression he was showing us off. His caregivers were helpful and told him it was OK and to go play with Mama and Papa (and indicated to us it was OK to just let him cry through it). But when the door was closed again, the wails also resumed. Which meant it was secret weapon time...out came the cheerios! He at first wanted nothing to do with them or us but after a few minutes tried to cry and eat at the same time. As this has proven to never work, the crying was soon abandoned for cheerios and banana slices. Another slightly discouraging fact is that he said "Mama" when he would want the door open, when he would drop something, and in general whenever something wasn't going his way. We realized that all the children call their caregivers Mama so we weren't sure when he was talking to Lyn or wanting someone else to come.

At this point the visit got a little better. He played with a few toys and with the food containers while munching his snacks. He even had a couple smiles as we played with toys together, one that we captured with the camera. Maybe the best part of the visit was when Papa held him up high to look out of the windows. He loved the view (his group is upstairs) and said quite a few words describing what he saw (in Kazakh of course). His most repeated words were haa-KYE (sounded sort of like "Hawkeye") and ge-BAA. (When we asked Assia later what he might mean, she said she would have to hear them from him. I have the feeling we are not too proficient at speaking Kazakh). When Papa put him down, he got a bit agitated because he wasn't done looking out the window yet and demanded to be held up there some more. Well, at least he isn't scared of us anymore.

So as I said we were a little down upon leaving the baby house, but a bit of reflection and a nice lunch of hot meatball soup at Kamelot definitely improved our attitudes. Since everything has been improving day-by-day, it seemed at first like a setback to not have him seem more comfortable. But looking back at how far we've come in only eight days puts it in perspective (because nine days ago we didn't even know him). We have to remember also that he will have plenty of typical two-year-old frustration to dish out to mom and dad! Everything he is doing does seem to be going according to what we anticipated from a two-year old. And most of all, that wonderful smile is just pure sunshine.

Ha!!! Got another one!

Molecular Physics, anyone?

It is scientifically impossible to remain sad while eating bananas.

No caption required.

The afternoon visit with Gulnaz was wonderful as usual. She is so content to play with us and never fusses or cries. What more can you ask from a baby? She amazed us again at how smart she is by imitating something we were doing with the little stuffed Pooh bear. We would put Pooh to our nose and smell him (he smells like vanilla from sitting on a candle at home. Don't ask.) and say "Oooh, Pooh smells good." She would then grab Pooh and put him up to her nose, then lift him up with her nose stuck up in the air...which was a very good imitation of what we were doing. It was really cute. She was also climbing all over Daddy and crawling all over on the sheet. She tried to escape a couple of times but we redirected her because she's not allowed to be off the sheet! She also had some very studious moments examining Pooh and some of Temirlan's toys. But most of all, she chewed on everything in sight!!!

I like this Pooh character!

OK. I'll say it one more time...TEETHING!!!

So I'm Cute. What more can I say?

So...how does it work?

In Other News...

(1) Congratulations to the Lautmans and Dillards! Both families had their court appearances today and received favorable decisions!! Yay!!

Congrats to Lou, Liz, Harris, and Nina Lautman. Hip Hip Hooray!!

(2) It's getting very cold outside...VERY. It was about 0 degrees F most of the day but walking home from pizza tonight it had to be in the negative teens. Brrrrr!

(3) Watched music videos as we ate our pizza tonight. We were hoping to catch our favorite Russian pop song (that we call the "Tu Ru Ru Song" since we don't know the words) that we hear all the time on the radio but it seemed to be Western Europe night on MTV. Nothing like a remake of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" as a duet in French. Oh, Yeah.
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