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February 7

Hi folks and welcome to Groundhog Day. When we woke up today, the alarm sounded just like Sonny & Cher singing 'I Got You' and Kaz-atauny Phil must be waiting outside to see his shadow. If you've never seen the Bill Murray movie (Groundhog Day) then you're probably saying 'What's up with this...?', but it's a little like we felt today. Plus it snowed all day just like the movie. I think we probably had 2 or 3 inches accumulation over the whole day. But unlike Ohio, Uralsk doesn't slow down for a little bit of snow...everything seems to move along just the same (including the traffic). We talked about how Temirlan loves routine. We realized today how WE have also adapted so quickly to following the daily routine too. I'm sure our little army of Lyn and I, Temirlan, Gulnaz, and Assia marching through the baby house halls at the same times each day seem a bit like a broken record. However, the good news is that the journal also has the same report to make: it was another great day visiting the kids!

Just like yesterday, we had both Temirlan and Gulnaz for the morning and afternoon visits, but since there are no music classes on Saturday, both visits were in the music room. In the morning visit, neither of the children was extremely active. Gulnaz was content to sit, play with some blocks, and chew on anything she could reach. Her bottom teeth are really coming in and they were probably bothering her. While she chewed, chewed, chewed, Temirlan was still her chief obsession. She loves to watch him and wants anything he has. As usual though, she is always ready to cuddle a bit and again loved daddy's jacket zipper.

Temirlan's morning started out quick with bananas. Today he started trying to ask for them by name which comes out "ana" or "ana-ka" (adding the 'ka' is not Kazakh, it is just Temirlan-ese). He asked for it; he got it! He ate all the banana slices we brought (really not that many) and then started on the cheerios. While eating, we played a game with the Pooh talking book. We would hit a sound, especially one of his favorites, and make silly motions to go with the sound. Temirlan laughed and laughed at his crazy Mama and Papa. Gulnaz just wondered why we were so undignified! Temirlan's favorite game was to transfer the cheerios back and forth from container to container, eating a few as he played. That was about it. Temirlan did walk around the room a bit and started to cry when Papa left to take Gulnaz back to her room (we think he gets jealous when we spend time with Gulnaz. He sometimes whines when one of us gives her some undivided attention). It was a good visit and the afternoon was nice as well.

Sylvester meets Gulnaz.

Mama and Papa are crazy!


Assia has a zipper, too!

Our afternoon visit was very similar to the morning. Gulnaz was tired and already starting to nap when we arrived but perked up when she saw us. She had a good time playing with blocks, rattles, Temirlan's cars (whine!), and the Pooh talking book (I think the poor Pooh book is going to take a beating!). She also loved standing on top of Papa and looking over the teacher's desk. She liked being BIG! Temirlan also had fun. For the first time, Papa went to pick him up in his room today and he came trotting over with outstretched arms just like he does for Mama chanting Ka-pa, ka-pa to his little friends the whole time (although he often says Paka, he also reverses the syllables at times turning it into ka-pa).

Temirlan still liked the Pooh book and tried doing some motions to his favorite sounds. He also got a special treat: between visits we went to the market and bought some cocoa puffs. When he saw the little brown balls, he was skeptical. However after seeing Papa eat a couple (mmmmmmmm!) he tried one and they were an instant hit! It was cocoa puff city from that instant on. He imitated our Mmmmmmmm! when he would eat one. It was also funny when he first got the cheerio/cocoa puff container. He didn't want to give it up, but he also couldn't get it open. We said a few times 'Mama ish' or 'Papa ish' ('ish' or maybe 'osh' is Kazakh for 'open') but he was determined to do it himself. However after a few futile minutes, we heard the expected 'Papa ish' (it's amazing how those big people can work the lids). It is nice to have some communication, no matter how basic. So it was a good day and everyone had fun.

I like Temirlan's toys!

She's got my stuff again...

Papa ish.

I like being a big!

And now, a trip to the Big Market!
Between the morning and afternoon visits, we stopped at the Big Market for supplies. The Big Market is the Uralsk version of Super Walmart: it has groceries, clothing, appliances, electronics, music, -- well, you get the picture. It is arranged in a three floor format with groceries on the ground floor and the other stuff on floors 2 and 3. As with the other stores we've tried, it is not one continuous store. Rather, it is a collection of small shops and stores sharing a common building--sort of a mini-mall. As with our malls, each small shop specializes in one type of product: baby clothes, music, women's clothes, men's clothes, Levis, etc. The grocery store is like our groceries: fill up your cart and pay up front. However the meat and produce departments are separate from the rest of the store.

We bought a snow suit for Gulnaz and some winter boots, mittens, and warm sweats for Temirlan as well as a load of groceries. Lyn also bought a new scarf (her old one was left in Almaty -- Oops!). Mike wanted the playstation but I guess we can't buy everything (Hmmm. Maybe Temirlan wants the playstation!). We also stopped at a nice bookstore on the way back and bought a souvenir book on Kazakhstan culture and customs printed in English, Russian, and Kazakh. After our return, it was salami and cheese sandwiches for lunch. We bought Russian cheese at the market and it was very good (it was a strong light-colored cheese. We thought it was similar to bleu cheese without the blue parts). We also had a another first: mexican flavored Pringles. Not that they aren't at home; we just never tried them there! Pringles seem as popular here as they are at home.

Our haul from the big market.

Don't know what is on the menu tonight, but I need to find out soon so...

Paka-Paka! (or is it Ka-pa, Ka-pa...?)
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