25 June 2007 Coffee, Plane Tickets and Boy Clothes!
We had another beautiful day here—the heat has blown away and the air is perfect for being outside. Today our novel items included a juice box and nine goldfish crackers. The juice box was particularly entertaining because we think that Sash doesn’t actually suck the juice up the straw. He squishes the box to get some of the juice in his mouth, and the rest on his hands and shirt. This method could use some improvement, but we can’t explain how to make it easier for him, so he will just have to figure it out.
The goldfish crackers were also a hit. We tried to make him say “Goldfish” before eating each one, but if the goldfish was already in his hand, he would not waste mouth motion on saying the word . . . the fish went straight in. Eventually I wouldn’t give him the fish until he said it, and then, like anytime he speaks in English, he becomes ten times cuter.
Sasha’s Family Returning from a Walk
His family came out to play while we were on the playground. We are getting to know his group, and they are getting to know us, so we play with them when we are all together. Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes Sasha gets very possessive of us. This is completely understandable, and we back off engaging with the others when he asserts his ownership of us. But those kids benefit from extra hands to push on the swing or catch at the end of the slide.
Toddlers in Baskets
There are interesting play apparati on the playground, including what looks like wire waste baskets on poles. We assumed they were for playing a basketball like game, so I was delighted to look up from playing with Sash to see a caregiver putting toddlers in the baskets. It is the perfect way to keep track of them. Some eventually discover they can escape by bending down and crawling out. Others are perfectly content to just hang there, and some, like Sasha are a bit too big to bend down to escape, so they, like Sasha, just cry. We have a lot to learn about child care from the Kazakhs . . .
I wanted to get a photo of Sasha’s family for him and us to remember, but also to print and give to his caregivers as a thank you gift, so today was a great day for that. We (meaning Masha) asked one of the caregivers to gather the kids in a group so I could take a photo. To accomplish this she employed the use of another interesting play apparatus: little table/stand things. Of course getting nine two year olds to stand still is nearly impossible, but one of the care givers started putting them on these little table/stand things, and for risk of falling off they stayed pretty well.
Girlfriends Getting Ready to Slide
These kids are so great—I had to take a photo of two little girls getting ready to go slide. I covet their headscarves and need to look for them in the bazaar. They need the scarves to cover their extra large bows, lest the bows be harmed in any way. It is possible they are also to protect the little ones from the sun . . . but I am sure protection of the bows is involved as well.
Watering the Weeds . . . preparation for future gardening
We also introduced the watering can today . . . and that was a big hit, except when we used all the water from the water bottle. Sasha’s caregivers always tell us what a helpful little guy he is, and when one saw him dutifully watering all the weeds on the playground she came to tell us again how even though he was the youngest in his former group he was a huge help to them. We hope this enthusiastic helping will continue at home . . .
It was a good day, and we have now completed our required 14 days of bonding. The Baby House director did her paperwork today saying that the BH supports our adoption of Sasha, so one more piece has fallen into place. Tomorrow we take him to get his passport photo—another exciting milestone!
The Other 22 Hours
Espresso and Cappuccino
When we last left you we were headed out to get real coffee. We went to the only coffee joint in town . . . and were not disappointed. Steve got an espresso he loved and I got a cappuccino that was not bad, but I don’t think there was enough actual coffee in it. Weak or not it was better than the chemical horror show I had thought about drinking.
After bonding today Masha took us to buy our tickets from here to Almaty. This errand was moderately straight forward—buying plane tickets—but there were still those weird Kazakh aspects that colored the experience. First thing, on the way here two weeks ago we flew up on a non-stop flight that was just about four hours and we wanted a non-stop on the way back. But, they don’t take reservations for the non-stop, only for the planes that have a lay over somewhere. When questioned about this, Masha told us that the non-stop is always full (with people who apparently don’t have to plan ahead) so they don’t need to take reservations . . . we are not sure of the logic, but we have acquired an ability to suspend logic just for the sake of surviving the oddities with a minimum of emotional trauma.
The second funny part was that after reserving a flight that takes five and a half hours and has a stop over in another city we tried to pay with Visa. The airline office is capable of using Visa (unlike 98.7% of other businesses) but today the phone line (curse those internet/phone connections!) was not working, so the cashier asked us to just go get cash out of the bank. Again, we were wondering if there were not another way, but alas, there was not.
So we went to the ATM and tried to withdraw 50,000 tenge to pay for the 55,000 tenge tickets. Steve went through the menu at the ATM, which warned him that he could withdraw no more than 30,000 tenge (about $250), and then went to the next screen where he saw a 50, 000 option, which he then tried to select. But NYET! If you say you want 50,000 tenge when your maximum is 30,000, you will get nothing—and the ATM spat his card back out. Needless to say, he did not make that mistake again, but instead settled for withdrawing 30,000 tenge and borrowing some cash from Masha, and we were able to buy our tickets.
Our other errand today was buying clothes for Sasha. As kids live in the BH they all share the available clothes, so we may see another kid in his family wearing clothes that Sasha had on the day before. Because he owns no clothes Masha and I went shopping for him today in the bazaar. It was fun—something I have been wanting to do for years—shop for a son. Steve wisely bailed on us so we were free to be inefficient and take time to match colors and ensembles. We will try them on tomorrow and hopefully they will fit. We will keep you posted ~ until then ~ cheers!