Archive for July, 2006

July 30, 2006

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Today (morning of the 31st, Kaz. time) is our last morning in the hotel room and — wouldn’t you know it? — the bathroom light went out.  I thought we could just put up with it for one day, but Arina doesn’t like to go “pee-sah, pee-sah” in the dark, so we’ll have to get someone up here asap.

I’ve promised a “short” post for the past two days, and neither have been really short.  Today’s will be because I have to pack!  And as I mentioned yesterday, I’m running out of things to say.  There are photos in the gallery at least.

Last night (the evening of the 30th, Kaz. time) we watched the first movie since we’ve been here.  My friend, Rachel, let me borrow a classic horror movie from the 1960s, and we watched in on the laptop.  Although Papa disapproved, I let Arina watch the first part of it with us because my father and I would always watch horror movies together when I was a little girl.  The first night I spent away from home (at grandma and grandpa’s, of course), Dad told me he was watching a “scary movie,” and I started crying because I couldn’t believe he was watching one without me.  So, although it was past Arina’s bedtime, I was indulgent.

I would close the lid of the laptop during the especially scary or inappropriate parts, but Arina soon thought this was a game we were playing and tried to close the lid of the laptop every two seconds, after which she had to go to bed.

Today’s featured photo is from Scott and Arina’s morning walk in the park.  Although I complained about how far away from her he was when he took the photo, I love the sense of “freedom” she obviously feels.

July 29, 2006

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Yesterday I promised the post would be a short one, and it wasn’t.  Today it will be!  I’m running late again and, believe it or not, I’m running out of things to say.  And Scott’s running out of photos to take.  There isn’t even an album for today in the photo gallery (sorry Mom).  He says that’s an indication of how ready we are to go home.

So, here’s a quick list of “firsts” (top five) we’re excited about experiencing with a toddler.  Feel free to add!

5. The Barnes and Noble children’s reading and play area: I don’t know if this existed when I was a child, and even if it did, I didn’t live near enough to a major book store to be able to experience it.  But a reading and play area in a book store — new books are my favorite smell — it would have been my dream come true.

4. Smells: Arina knows to “smell” flowers because Mama bends down and smells flowers.  But we’ve yet to find a flower here that smells.  Not that they don’t have any, but we’re sort of limited in where we can go to look for them.  Also, she has never experienced the smell of cookies baking.  That will be a fun one.  Not that I bake.  (Jill, can you come over and bake cookies with Arina?)

3. A bubble bath: Arina loves bath time already.  Once we introduce her to bubble bath, she’ll never want to get out of the tub.

2. The zoo: Arina loves animals but — to date — has only seen dogs, cats, birds, and insects.  We’re excited about showing her lions, tigers, and bears, etc., although we’re sure she’ll say “meow, meow” for each one.

1. The ocean: She loves the “I’m going to get you game,” so I can imagine her reaction to the ebb and flow of the tide.  Maybe we can introduce Arina and Mr. Knightley, who loves water, to the ocean at the same time.


July 28, 2006

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Today’s post will have to be another short one, as I’m very much behind schedule.  So, reflections on July 28th are as follows:

Scott and I have realized that for all Arina knows, she’ll spend the next eighteen years in this hotel room with Mama and Papa.  The amazing thing is she seems perfectly fine with this.  I don’t know if I would be.  The Baby House had much more room, that’s for sure.  The only thing that has concerned her is our strange propensity to lose items in such a small space.  Having never had clothes and toys of her own, she’s very protective of them.  We lost her socks a couple of days ago and turned the apartment upside down looking for them (Mama was behind on laundry, so it wasn’t as simple as getting another pair out of the drawer).  We finally found them an hour later when we took Arina to the bathroom.  She had stuffed them down her underwear, for safe-keeping, we assume.

Scott and I had our hair cut at the hotel salon today.  It was intimidating to visit a stylist who only speaks Russian, but we could wait no longer.  I had only my bangs trimmed, but she did a wonderful job.  I no longer look like a shaggy dog.  We think we’ll take Arina today, as she’s growing another mullet.

We had dinner with the other adoptive families tonight — pizza from Pizza Hut (no, it’s not like American Pizza Hut) and wine.  I think I ate an entire pizza by myself because the slices are almost paper thin.  We ordered five and there wasn’t a crumb left.

Today’s featured photo is of Arina on a park bench, tired of having her photo taken.  Note her outfit, another one of mine when I was a toddler.  Solicitation for advice:  How do you keep a twenty-three month old from picking a scab?  Scott and I have been coating the scab on her nose with baby neosporin.  We know there will be a lot of photos taken at the airport and would like her “battle scar” from the Kazakhstan playground to have disappeared by then.  If she picks at it, it’ll never go away, right?  It’ll be continually “re-injured” or turn into a scar that she’ll have on her wedding day.  I’ve already tried a tiny band-aid on it, but that lasted about two seconds.

July 27, 2006

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

New video alert!  Scott has been working on a “Arina’s life at the hotel” video and posted it today.  His goal was to chronicle a full day (believe me, our days have gotten very typical here).  The only thing he missed was a shot of Arina eating her morning gruel.  (She ate oatmeal until we ran out, and then we bought the same type of “cereal” — aka gruel — that the children eat and LOVE, I must add, at the Baby House).  It’s hard for us to watch her eat it, much less videotape it; she always has what we’ve dubbed “a beard of gruel” by the time she’s done.  So Scott inserted an extra shot from dinner in the breakfast spot.  He said no one would notice, but I told him I didn’t want people to think we feed her bow-tie pasta three times a day.

Several of you have sent emails commenting on Arina’s tan.  Yes, she tans perfectly, unlike Papa (who always gets a sunburn) and Mama (who always gets a sunburn on her nose, despite how much sunscreen she puts on it).  Add a perfect tan to blond hair and blue eyes and shapely, long legs that shouldn’t be wasted on a toddler.  We’ve adopted Barbie.  Scott says we can brag about her looks because we had absolutely nothing to do with them.

We purchased our plane tickets from Karaganda to Almaty, so we’re booked for August 1st.  We’ll spend a couple of days in Almaty.  We’re required to have Arina checked by a doctor before bringing her to the U.S., and we have to go to the U.S. Embassy to finalize our paperwork.  But we’ll be HOME a week from today (since I’m writing this on Friday morning, Kazakhstan time).  Hurrah!

July 26, 2006

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

I got in trouble for my last post.  Normally Scott is such a tease that he doesn’t mind being teased himself, but he insists that I clarify the shower situation.  If I don’t he’ll write his own post, complete with misspelled words and improper grammar.  He says I made it sound like we are bathing Arina in a tub.  We bathe her in the shower.  The nozzle is removable and the water puddles in the floor at the bottom.  According to Scott, the removable nozzle makes all the difference.  He was holding the nozzle with steaming hot water “a mile” away from the baby, at least.  As I said, normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but Scott maintains that everyone needs to know what a good Papa he is.

And then, poor guy, Arina got hurt on his watch.  Mama never lets Arina go on the “big girl slide” in the park, but Scott let her on it when they were on their morning father/daughter walk.  I’ll give him credit.  He went down the slide with her a couple of times before he let her do it on her own.  She was having the time of her life (Papas are so much cooler than Mamas) until she turned sideways on the slide and went face first in the dirt.  Surprisingly she didn’t cry about her scratched upper lip.  She made more of an “Eww, eww, eww” sound concerning the dirt on her clothes, hands, and face.  I also have to add that Papa didn’t even notice her scratched upper lip (he just thought it was dirty), whereas it was the first thing I noticed when they came in:  “AGH!  WHY IS SHE BLEEDING?!”  See the before and after photos below.

Before the tumble down the slide:

After the tumble down the slide:

She has enjoyed being doctored up with baby neosporin.  I don’t know if the caregivers have that at the Baby House, and, even if they do, it’s probably impossible for them to use it on every bump and bruise.  Arina seems to be very proud of having a scrape that’s worthy of such attention.

Scott says that the slide incident must have been instrumental in their bonding, however, because she allowed him to put her in the dreaded pat-a-pum tonight.  And she not only allowed him to put her in the pat-a-pum.  She enjoyed it so much that she cried when he took her out.  See the photos in today’s gallery.  Mama was so excited that she did a little dance.  Airport, here we come.

July 25, 2006

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

Scott and I are doing remarkably well to have spent thirty-seven days in a small hotel room together.  I must pay tribute to our first big fight though, which happened on day thirty-one, and Scott’s first near panic-attack about our finances, which happened today.

The fight:  It started over something trivial, as fights always do.  Normally I give Arina her bath in the evening, but since I had neglected our laundry for the day, I passed the more enjoyable task over to Scott, good wife that I am.  So, I was at the bathroom sink doing a load of laundry (a “sink load” of laundry, which I have down to a science, is considerably smaller than a washing machine load) while Scott was preparing to bathe Arina.

The argument began over the best way to prepare bath water.  I always get the temperature just right and then sit Arina down.  Scott sat Arina down and turned the gauge to the hottest temperature possible.  His reasoning:  The water takes a couple of seconds before it gets hot despite how far you turn it and that he, with superhuman quickness of hand, is able to correct the temperature before the steaming hot water hits the baby.  We were both very convicted in our opinions and very upset with each other for having a different one.  After voices were raised to such a pitch that Arina started crying, we were ashamed that she had seen us get upset with each other.  We continued to be upset, of course, but resorted to sticking out our tongues and pinching each other vindictively while Arina’s back was turned.

The near panic attack about finances:  We went to the grocery store today and spent twice what we normally spend, no doubt due to the pull-ups, baby wipes, etc.  When I showed Scott the receipt, he spent a good twenty minutes talking about how poor we are, how he has to “provide” for both of us now, how he will have to get a second job, etc.  Yet, a couple of days ago, he said — and I quote — “Let’s go to the hotel restaurant tonight.  This is our vacation, and we didn’t adopt a baby to save money.” 

We have both agreed to ignore our anniversary (August 5th) this year.  When Scott woke up this morning, he said, “Honey, guess what I’m getting you for your anniversary.  A baby.”  I said “Ditto.” 

Today’s featured photo is of Arina being bashful — a rarity, at least here in Kazakhstan.

July 24, 2006

Monday, July 24th, 2006

So Arina can say “Mama” and “Papa,” and we know that she knows who is who.  But her latest thing is to say “Mama” whenever she wants something, regardless of who’s around.  She wanted out of her saucer this morning and Scott was nearby, so she held her arms up to him and said “Mama!”  The annoying thing is since “Mama” has become a synonym for “Give me what I want,” it’s almost always accompanied by a whine.  I’m trying to get her to say “Arina,” “Rina” or “Re-Re,” but haven’t succeeded yet.  I don’t know if she’s having trouble with the “r” sound or if she’s just being stubborn.  She thinks it’s funny to point at herself and say “Papa!”

She babbles so much more now.  Well, we call it “babble” but for all we know she could be talking full sentences in Russian.  Celia told us that the three-year-old little boy she’s adopting from Arina’s room got red in the face yesterday and started talking a mile a minute and gestering wildly while they were outside.  She kept shaking her head to show she didn’t understand and, finally, he ran to a bush, pulled his pants down, and peed.


July 23, 2006

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Our days are starting to run together.  Scott and I are constantly asking each other, “What day is today?” and more often than not the answer is a disinterested “I don’t know.”  Our world is the hotel, so we can only travel to what’s within walking distance.  There are taxi cabs, but our facilitator is nervous about us taking them, so we don’t.  It’s not that they’re not safe; it’s just that our facilitator is very much a mother hen who wants her chicks to stay near the roost.  No one is going to be crossing streets and getting hit by a car on her watch!  All joking aside, she’s absolutely wonderful — we’ve been SO well taken care of here — and we’ll be forever grateful to her for uniting us with Arina.

We do get “re-oriented” as to the days of the week on Sunday.  The other adoptive families who are here only have one visit on Sundays, so we always walk to the market together in the afternoon.  Our “next door neighbor” is a single mother from New York State who is adopting toddler boys, one of whom is from Arina’s room.  We’re hoping she’ll have them here at the hotel before we leave so that Arina will have playmates.  But we’ve informed Ms. Celia that we’re not waiting around!  When it’s time for us to go, we’re gone.  We’ll just have to visit New York during the summers.  We joke about Celia’s little boy being Arina’s first “summer fling.”


July 22, 2006

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

I made the mistake of naming one of Arina’s two baby dolls “Molly,” a name too similar to “Mama.”  So sometimes Molly is called Mama and sometimes Mama is called Molly, more often the former because “Mama” is such a fun word for Arina.  Our little girl loves her two baby dolls:  Baby Molly and Baby Stella.  I bought Baby Stella in the states, just in case we decided to get a little girl.  “Stella” was the name on the box.  Arina hasn’t learned to say it yet, although when she does, she’ll be able to call my friend’s dog of the same name.  I think she’s as excited to see her dolls in the morning as she is to see us.  Scott enjoys the fact that she “takes such good care of them.”

This entry will have to be short because I slept late and am starving.  I just want to point out that I’ve included a couple of photos of me and Arina in the gallery to prove I’m still here.  I’ve vetoed all of the photos Scott has taken of me lately.  My hair grows quickly and not having had a hair-cut in over a month is really making me look like a type of shaggy dog.  There is a hair salon in our hotel, but the stylist only speaks Russian and I’m nervous about what sort of hair style I’d end up with, being unable to communicate what I want


July 21, 2006

Friday, July 21st, 2006

I was looking over old posts and realized that I never recorded what the caregivers told us about Arina at our going away party!  These women have known and cared for Arina for practically her entire life, so their insight and advice is priceless, even though they confirmed a lot of what we already knew.

  • Arina’s friends and enemies:  Sergei is Arina’s best friend and Anya, the other little blond girl in the class, is her nemesis.  The caregivers put it mildly, I think, when they shook their heads and said, “They’re not friends.”  They explained that most children in the room play with one toy and then another, often exchanging toys with their roommates.  Arina is more of a “one toy” girl.  The caregivers said she’d pick one to play with during playtime, go off on her own, and have the time of her life.  Anya would frequently try to exchange her toy for the one Arina picked, much to her detriment.  Remember the toy shovel incident?  Enough said.
  • Arina’s concerns:  The caregivers said, as we had noticed, that Arina is preoccupied with her fingernails.  She likes for them to be “perfect.”  Hence hang nails drive her crazy.  Of course the one thing I forgot to pack is a baby fingernail clipper.  Another adoptive mother has one, though, and has let me borrow it.  I clipped Arina’s fingernails the other day and she was in heaven.
  • The caregivers’ advice:  They said Arina is a good girl and that they’ve been waiting for her to be adopted.  They were worried, however, that Scott and I have spoiled her already and told us that she must learn what “No!” means.

“No!” has been a hard lesson for Arina to learn and a hard one for us to teach.  She was playing with (and chewing on!) the computer cord yesterday.  Scott said “No!” and moved her hand.  She looked at him and touched the cord again.  He said “No!” and moved her hand.  She looked at him and touched the cord again.  He said “No!” and popped her hand.  She “cried” (no tears), looked up at him, and touched the cord with her foot.  Scott says she looks “evil” at times like this.  Mom says she’s just like her Uncle Tom. 

She’s definitely the little manipulator.  We bought her ice cream again today.  (I know, I know.  She’s not going to fit on the plane if I don’t stop).  Scott tried to take it from her during clean-up time.  She growled at him and then feigned sleep (see photo in gallery).  Her reasoning, we assume, is that Papa wouldn’t steal ice cream from a sleeping baby.   

Today’s featured photo is of Arina strutting her stuff.