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February 14

Whew! This past 48 hours has been something else! We are now in Almaty and both children are asleep, so it is now time to try to remember all that happened yesterday and today. We've haven't taken many pictures because we've had our hands full, so we don't have many for the last two days.

Thursday Night

The last time we updated the journal, we were wondering when Temirlan would run out of energy on that first night. And, also, if he was going to get scared and want to go 'home' when it was time for bed. Well, we decided to lay out some blankets on the floor of the living room, and Mama & Papa would lay down and see what he would do. We turned on the TV as sort of a night light and 'went to sleep'. It took him about 5 minutes to crawl up on the couch with two sippy cups in hand (at the time, he couldn't even drink out of them...he has since mastered this art) and lay his head on the pillow watching TV. Then, about another 5 minutes to be out like a light. Silly parents that we are, we actually took a chance on waking him up to take a picture of him laying there because he looked so cute! Then we also did the same with Nikki Gulnaz. We're pretty brave, aren't we? Neither of them woke up from the flash, so it worked out and now you can see how cute they looked too!

Spiderman wore himself out...

Nikki sleeping (she really was, even though you can see her eyes! She's tricksy.)

Before we go on, we better throw in a couple of disclaimers...1) We did not leave Temirlan alone sleeping on the couch uncovered and such, this was just how he fell asleep. We actually put pillows in front of him on the couch and Mama slept on the floor in the living room to keep an eye on him. Sure enough he thrashed around and fell off the couch right onto the pillow. 2) We really do know that you're supposed to put both of the baby's arms in the sleeper (at least Mama does ;) It was sort of hot in there, so I let some air in where I could without waking her up!


Both kids slept through the entire first night, with Nikki waking up around 8:30 and Temirlan not waking up until 9:30. The rest of the morning was very busy just making sure everybody got fed, changed, dressed and lots of attention in between. We're out of practice so these things take a lot more time than they should! (plus, we don't have a microwave.) Mike went souvenir shopping in the afternoon, purchasing among other things, a Kazakhstan flag which we will fly on Kazakhstan's Independence Day, December 16. After he got back, the goal was to pack up all our suitcases for our Saturday morning flight to Almaty. This was an incredible chore to try to accomplish while taking care of two toddlers, especially knowing we would have to do the same thing in less than a week. We were also just plain sad to have to think of leaving Uralsk, because we have had such a great time here and met so many nice people. It was nice to be able to walk to the restaurants and markets which we don't think we will be able to do in Almaty.

Other than the packing, we had a great day with Temirlan and Nikki. Temirlan just seemed so happy to run around the apartment, carrying his toys from one room to another, and lifting his arms to be picked up by Mama or Papa. He would come into a room where we were and just smile and laugh to see us there. He would like to run out in the kitchen, look back to see if we were looking and crack up laughing when he saw us. He has such a great laugh, I can't wait for you all to hear it! In general, he just smiled and laughed all day. It was incredible! Nikki didn't seem herself. She was not as content as usual, but she was still good, she just wanted to be held all the time. It could be harder for her than we imagined, or it could be teething or you name it. Since she refuses to tell us which it is, we just hold her all we can and try to figure it out as we go.

About 5:30 at night, we decided to practice using our Snugli's (baby carriers) since we would need them to be able to handle all our luggage PLUS the kids! Mike had wanted to show Temirlan the city lights, so we figured by the time we walked around a bit it would be dark enough for the lights to come on. So, we bundled up Nikki in her snow suit (you would not believe how thick this snow suit is, she can't move in it!) and put her in her Snugli on Lyn. Not much problem there. (We decided to put her in front facing inward.) Now... onto Temirlan. Our biggest question since we met him has been...will he ride in the Snugli? That may seem weird, but try to picture yourself with three huge suitcases, two very heavy carry-ons and two children who can't walk around in an airport. How do you get from Point A to Point B? May I also mention that in most of these flights, we have had to climb stairs to board and deboard the plane? Anyway, it was an important question to have answered. For anyone that has tried to figure out one of these backpack Snugli's, you can feel our pain. If you haven't, just trust me that it is not straightforward or self-explanatory. So we begin trying to figure out how this thing works. First we bundle up Temirlan in his coat and hat (which looked adorable as you'll see below). Then he actually lets us put his legs through the openings to put this thing on him first, losing a shoe in the process! The next step is to figure out how the shoulder straps adjust, fasten, etc. It was the weirdest thing we had ever seen with all the straps, buckles, etc and we could not figure it out for the longest time. We were all bundled up in our coats and hats, Nikki strapped to Lyn's front in her carrier in the incredibly thick snow suit...it was so ridiculous that we couldn't stop laughing and that didn't help us figure things out any faster either. In the mean time, Nikki falls asleep in the carrier and Temirlan falls asleep sitting halfway in the Snugli! When we finally did figure it out. He was like dead weight when we put him up on Mike's back. He was zonked! We started out on the walk thinking he might wake up to see the lights but we didn't get very far and turned around since this really wasn't going to answer our big question...Would he ride in the Snugli? So that was a waste of about an hour! We laid him on the couch and he was out for the night! Who would have believed that? Nikki was a bit harder to put to bed, but she went down by 9:00. It was a fun but tiring day!

Nikki slowly wakes up on Friday morning cuddling with Papa.

Spiderman in action on Friday morning...all smiles.

Temirlan bundled up for the trial Snugli run. Isn't he adorable in his hat? (Thanks, Krysty!)

Saturday...On to Almaty

We got up around 5:00am even though we weren't being picked up until 9:15. There were many things we couldn't pack until we used them one last time and we didn't know how long it would take to get the kids ready. Temirlan got up around 6:00 and Nikki around 7:00. It seemed like 4 hours should have been plenty of time, but we just barely got ready. It was very stressful. Anyone that knows me (Lyn) knows that I like to be ready early, not just on time. I like to have a few minutes to just sit and wait before I'm supposed to be picked up or go somewhere. I guess my life has really took a turn because we just barely made got everything done before our driver arrived.

We had given up on trying out the Snugli with Temirlan because we didn't have time to deal with it (since our practice run was a flop). (I going to be brief from this point on because I am getting very sleepy.) We had help with our suitcases from our drivers and help with Temirlan from Assia, but there comes a certain point in an airport when your helpers can't go with you any further. So there we were with all five bags and two kids in a place where we couldn't read the signs or ask anyone for help. It was pretty scary (remember, this is Lyn, I'm sure Mike was not scared, but I was!) You have to have your luggage weighed, pay the excess baggage fee, then receive your boarding passes (it's not a simple process especially when you're not used to it). We had purchased 3 tickets and realized when we got to the gate that the woman had not given us a boarding pass for Temirlan! Now we had to try to straighten out this problem! ('We' meaning Mike) It all worked out and we got to sit in the back section of the plane where it was pretty empty. Temirlan screamed and cried a few times as expected. Nikki was squirmy but slept most of the time as expected. The thing that stood out about the whole experience is how nice people from Kazakhstan are to people with children. There was a big line out in the cold to climb the stairs to the plane. When the woman taking the boarding passes looked back and saw us with the kids, we were immediately called to the front of the line. Plus in the airport, there were fellow passengers who spoke English who helped us out in knowing what to do and where to go. The attendants on the plane were extremely helpful as well.

So we made it to Almaty at 4:15 (now we're 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard time instead of 9). We got to our apartment around 5:00 and let me tell you we hit the jackpot. This apartment is really, really nice and even has a computer (and more importantly a crib!) There are a bunch of computer games here as well (including Starcraft and Lord of the Rings), which I better start hiding if I want any help with Temirlan and Nikki this week! We'll give more details about the apartment later. We had a nice evening here tonight. Temirlan seems to enjoy having a Mama and Papa. Temirlan and Papa were having fun singing 'Sting' songs (a CD that was here) and feeding each other cheerios while Mama was putting Nikki to bed. To get Temirlan to sleep tonight, all we had to do was put some blankets down and he came running over smiling and laid down right between us. Of course, he brought some blocks with him that he whacked together for a couple minutes (that was enjoyable) while he was getting sleepy. Within 5 minutes he was out. Papa was supposed to be pretending to sleep but as I write this he is sleeping away on the blanket as well. There won't be any pictures of today unless I can find my camera's USB cable without going in and rummaging around in the room where Nikki is asleep. I'm sure you will all understand.
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