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February 10

It's another snowy and blustery day here in Uralsk. A great day to go to the baby house! We realized this morning that we only have four more visits! Then, the big day when we can all go 'Paka' together!

We were in the sports room for the morning visit as you can tell from the pictures (I'm sure you all know the baby house as well as we do by now). Temirlan seemed pretty bored and was just content to sit and eat his cheerios/cocoa puffs and sort of keep an eye on everybody. He didn't have much interest in the toys or in any of the equipment around the room. He did want to SIT in the swing, (not SWING in the swing, but sit in the swing) so we have a great picture of him looking completely bored sitting in the swing. He seems to be pretty mellow in the morning visits and more active in the afternoon visits. This morning he was definitely pretty mellow. Gulnaz on the other hand...

Gulnaz was as full of energy and determination as we have ever seen her. If she was in our laps and saw something she wanted she would reach and strain until she got a hold of it. She wanted about everything she saw too! The most amazing thing was when we put her by one of the taller mats (about a foot tall). She loved standing there pounding her block against the mat. ...And if we put her about a foot away from the mat, she would take a couple of steps over to it (just barely touching her right hand to the little mat wall beside her). We got a pretty good shot of this below, if some of you think we may be imagining things! We continue to think she will be walking soon...after seeing the picture...don't you agree? Papa was also playing 'wheelbarrow' with Gulnaz this morning. She was strong enough to walk on her hands over to the blocks she wanted!

We learned our lesson from yesterday morning and started packing up our bag BEFORE it was time to go, so Temirlan would understand why we were taking the cheerios away. It worked very smoothly...chalk one up for Mama and Papa ;) So we got a cheerful Paka! Paka! this time instead of the teary-eyed one we sometimes get. We think that Gulnaz should have been worn out and ready for a nap after the active visit but the truth is, we were the ones that were ready for a nap!

I can s-t-r-e-t-c-h to get the bulldozer.

I love standing here like a big girl...

...and I can walk over there if I have to.

Oh, bother.

I can also walk on my hands if I have to!

A cheerful Paka! Paka! (from Temirlan and Assia!)

After 25 visits, there is not much new to report for the 26th. Temirlan was, as usual, interested in snacking and playing with the snacks ... pouring them from one container to another. (He's going to love playing in a sandbox someday!) He did seem a little alarmed when he opened the container and it wasn't as full as usual. Since we know he eats right before the second visit, we didn't want to bring as many. Gulnaz was pretty smiley as usual, too, when she didn't have one of the lids in her mouth, munching away on it. Papa noticed that her second tooth has come all the way in now. No wonder she's chewing everything in sight! Only two more visits left...

After the morning visit we went on a short sight-seeing excursion. Even though the weather wasn't agreeable, with all we have to do in the next couple of days this was our last chance. ...So we went in spite of all the snow. We went to the natural history museum, the old cathedral, the war memorial and a museum in honor of a local heroine, Manshuk Mamalaev. The old cathedral was beautiful inside with all the walls, ceilings and pillars painted with murals and portraits. The war memorial included a huge monument, an eternal flame and a long wall containing the names of all the men and women from the Western Kazakhstan region who died in the Great Patriotic War (World War II). Also on the wall were the likenesses of about 40 or so of the more famous Kazakhs who died in the war. Our driver Igor's grandfather was one of these heroes.

The very snowy version of the view from our kitchen window.

The 'blizzard' on the way to the baby house this afternoon.

...Houston, we have a problem...

See my two beautiful teeth! (And my new sweater...Thanks, Kendra!)

The eternal flame and the snow-covered wall at the war memorial.

The monument at the war memorial.

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