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February 9

We woke up to a bright and sunny, although cold, day. The wet snow that fell and then started to melt has now frozen into ice so the street crews are working full time to clear the sidewalks and side streets (the main roads were cleared well before the freeze hit). Our disposition is also bright and sunny because this morning we completed the second of our three government meetings: our pre-court meeting with the judge. In this meeting we presented our petition to the court to allow us to adopt the children and were asked a couple of basic questions about ourselves. Everything went well and we were still able to get to the baby house for a short morning visit after the meeting.

At the baby house we took both kids to the sports room today. Since we were a little late due to our meeting, the visits only lasted about half an hour. Gulnaz' group is too young to use the sports room and she was a bit overwhelmed. She liked looking into the mirror on the wall but had a hard time balancing on the foam pads covering the floor (just like Mama). She was also a bit intimidated by the swing and the pit of balls. We sat her in the balls to see if she would like it but she immediately wanted out. She was happy to sit and pound blocks together while watching Temirlan (the four of us did revise the All-Block-Band and made plenty of noise whack-whack-whacking those blocks).

Temirlan's caregiver said that he was saying 'Mama-Papa' when we were late wondering where we were! It's nice to be missed! He is used to the sports room and instead of playing with anything there, he wanted what was in our backpack: cocoa puffs, cheerios, and goldfish. He sat through our short visit munching his snacks and jabbering away. We know he does say a few Kazakh words but he also mixes in a double dose of Temirlanese. When happy, he says 'Da-Da' a lot ('da' means Yes) and sings a little song with all the words replaced with 'da-da-da'. So today he sang and ate and kept the cheerios away from Gulnaz. He also played a bit with "Nacho the Mouse", an interactive talking mouse toy. Unfortunately he was quite unhappy when the cheerios had to go into the backpack so he could go back to his room. Prying the container out of his Iron grasp was no small feat, but he did calm down quickly. After leaving the baby house, it was off to Chagala for mushroom soup & sandwiches for lunch.

Hello Nacho!

Strike up the band!

OK! Lets go!

See! I can too turn pages!

Our visits for today are over now and it was another good day all around. However there is really not that much to report from the afternoon visit. The good news is that both Temirlan and Gulnaz are becoming comfortable and settling into the visit routine. We started the visit talking with Gulnaz' doctor, just discussing her medical history. Gulnaz loved playing with the doctor's stethoscope and we of course think it means she already aspires to be a doctor herself (so what if she treated the stethoscope like a chew toy). While Mama and the doctor chatted, Papa and Temirlan played peek around the teacher's desk and had a good time.

Both Temirlan and Gulnaz were very active and happy this afternoon. Gulnaz continued her favorite activity of pounding blocks together. She was very happy to pound-pound-pound and then throw a block as far as she can...usually a couple of feet. She also continued her fascination with Temirlan, watching his every move with a block in each hand. Temirlan continued to ignore Gulnaz other than to cast a suspicious look if she got close to the cheerios. He played with a few toys and then became occupied with one of his favorite activities: separating cheerios from cocoa puffs and transferring them from container to container. He also liked when Mama sang him a song. The building lost power at one point (probably from the heavy ice outside) and he didn't like that much, but he was soon babbling and playing with the containers. At the end of the visit, he helped us pick everything up and put it in the backpack. He even helped put his beloved cocoa puff container in as well. As he was headed into his room, one of his caregivers said something in Kazakh and he ran back with a big smile to give Mama a big hug! So it was a nice end to a good day.

Just walkin' around.

You don't say!

Yep! They're all there.

Forget those fancy teething toys. Just gimme a jacket like this!

The hallways of the baby house are decorated with beautiful murals from fairy tales. This is one of our favorites, just outside the music room door.

That's it for today...Paka Paka!

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