Becoming the 4 McCaffery's

We've created this webpage for our family, friends, and future adoptive families to follow us in our adoption journey to Kazakhstan to become a family of 4. Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoy it!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

May 25, Thursday Finally Home

Yikes, what a journey.. The good news, we're home safe and sound and everyone is doing quite well. Sam and I took Ian to school today and then went to Walmart for groceries et all. He was amazed at how big it was and that he could ride in the cart!! I can't say how thankful I am to be home. We had a big scare on Tuesday morning as I awoke to our hotel room door being ajar and no longer possessed my passport, $700 cash, credit card, military id card and some tenge. Tuesday day I was a wreck, trying to get a new passport in order to have our exit interview to get home. Sam was great, just went with the flow. It was a nightmare I then had to lie to the police and say I "lost" my passport in order to get some paper that had to be turned into the Min of Educ. to get a new exit visa, etc. I would not recommend staying at the Hotel Kazzohl, as they're attitude towards everything was poor. It's too bad because it's so close to the TSUM and cafes. Our flight from Almaty to Frankfurt was uneventful and as always the staff of Lufthansa were great Sam slept for about 4 hours of the trip, but I was still restless and had a bit of a tummy ache so no sleep for me. We then hung out in the Frankfurt terminal for 7hrs. I thought I would be able to go to the USO, but because Sam was not yet a cititzen we could not leave the terminal to walk outside a mere 100ft to the other terminal where the USO was located. There were not too many seats open in the main terminal so finally we sat in an extra car that the airport uses to help elderly people reach their destinations. We then found a different McDonalds where we could eat lunch and watch the plane for hours. I met some nice people while waiting. A mother with 3 of her 7 children waiting to depart for Nigeria, a man from Ghana, and 2 nice men from India who shared their seat with us at Micky D's.

The next flight was easy as well, but I think we may have had a head wind because it took about 7.5 hrs to return home and when we left it was only 6.5 or maybe daylight savings or something like that. Anyhow, Sam was the star of the plane, very well behaved. I spoke to a nice woman from Germany the majority of the flight and we had no problems whatsoever with customs or immigration. We then headed to Auntie Robin's house for a bit as the traffic in NJ was horrendous and spent a few hours with some extended family. That's about it!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Homeward bound at last!

Hello all
This is Tim. For all of you that have been keeping track of this adventure, I received a call from Stephanie tonight. She is the wife of an American man (Jack) that was helping Nell and Sam jump through the last few hoops before they could come home. She called from Michigan to tell me that Nell and Sam were in line to check in for their flight. They were scheduled to depart Almaty around 0300 (around 5 pm for us on the east coast), so hopefully she'll be in Germany in a few more hours. I have no doubt she'll update the blog during her 7 hour layover. For those of you who haven't been to the Frankfurt airport, it is one of the better airports to explore if you are forced to have such a long layover--it has hundreds of stores and restaurants as well as several train stations that Ian enjoyed exploring. I'll let her continue her blog when she gets there. Thanks for all your support!
Tim and Ian, waiting not so patiently for the rest of our family to come home

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday 22nd

Hello from Almaty, I'm Europe, ok, it' s not that nice, but so much better than I anticpated! I actually had a hazlenut latte today!! It was SO good! I met a women from NY today who is adopting a little 16 month old girl. Aidianna. She's a spitfire and her mom is a ton of fun!! She went to a very remote region and has had it 10x worse than I have in regards to living conditions et al. We had a nice day walking around a bit, having a coffee at an outdoor cafe and then eating our deli salads like savages as we had no utensils in our hotel. We both have our Embassy appoints at 1500 and are on the same flight to Newark. Not to much to report except that Sam is blossoming every day into a wonderfully kind and polite little boy!!! He's made such strides in his language skills and social skills, I'm truly amazed, as well as won over many people's hearts!!! Plus, he's a ham with a wonderful laugh that keeps me smiling when I've just about had enough of "living abroad" Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well for tomorrow. Sam's passport is arriving tonight from Karaganda and that makes me very nervous. I know with adoption you need to go with the flow and while I think we've done that most of the time, I"m no longer feeling "giving" about things "slipping dates, etc." I'll just hope for the best and if we have to stay a few more days so be it, at least it's in a decent size city with English menus and a nice foo-foo supermarket. Yes, at this point, it's all about the food!! But come on, for those who know me well, when isn't it!!!


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunday May 21

Oh my goodness, can I just say how nice Almaty is. I've met a great group of people adopting from this region and man do they have the good life. Great supermarkets, restarants galore, with English menus and tons of trees and a beautiful skyline of the Tien Shien mountains, I thought they were the Himalayas, whatever their name, they are breathtaking. It's hard to believe Sam and I are hop, skip, and a jump away from China. Almaty feels much more European, and today when we passed Prada, Armani, Gucci, you could have sworn you were in Europe. This afternoon, my internet pal, Mary from Dublin, organized a grand get together of various couples and individuals adopting and we met at Mad Murphey's Irish Pub, the food was great, but can you believe they did not have any Murphey's available. I met a couple from Serbia, now living in Canada, 2 couples from N. Carolina, Julie, formally from MA. who now resides in Tampa, and another women from Springfield, MA. The families here are very spoiled in their living standards and choice of food, shopping extra. Sam loved being by the 2 babies, who were 9 and 12 months and looked like 3 and 6 month old children. Both very bright and alert and adorable. Sam was so gentle and when one of them cried, he said, "it's ok baby" He of course melted everyone's heart and once he giggled it was all over, his laugh is just so infectious. We then walked to the TSUM and hit the supermarket. I'm amazed that the majority of the people are as thin as they are because they have a ton of ornate desserts and yummy food every where. While at the grocery store Sam once again was able to steal some hearts as our clerk gave him some plastic toy and he was so elated. She told me she was so pleased that I spoke a bit of Russian. We then walked "home" to the hotel and tonights big entertainment is reading some fluff novels that I received from Anjanette and Mary. Keep your fingers crossed that Sam's passport arrives tomorrow and all goes well at the embassy on Tuesday. We are very excited to go home. But I tell you this, staying in Almaty for nearly 8 wks would have been a piece of cake compared to Karaganda. Still, we wouldn't have had Sam, and I wouldn't have been able "see and experience the REAL Kaz lifestyle."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sat May 20th

Hello from Almaty. It's quite warm here and I'm very thankful the hotel has A/C. Not too much to report today. We had a nice breakfast, hung out in the hotel doing puzzles, leap pad, magna doodle and then headed to the supermarket for some basic lunch and dinner supplies. it was much nicer and bigger than the one in karaganda, but a farther walk than when we were in Karaganda. Later in the day we met up with the Blewers in the hotel Kazakhstan, which looks fancy in the lobby, but the rooms are nasty. We had our last dinner together at a chic trendy cafe that doubles as an internet cafe and enjoyed our last night together. I will miss them terribly as they were a godsend to have in Karaganda while I was missing my 2 boys at home. They will have a 23 hour layover in Amsterdam and will visit with the Molon family who were also in Karaganda. Tomorrow I plan to meet up with Mary, a fun Irish gal who has quick wit and loves to laugh, so I know we'll have fun and her pal, Julie, who is just beginning her "alone" time in Kaz waiting to take her wee one home!! Monday is my only free day and I plan to shop a bit, as I will be bringing home my jeans and my Guiness t-shirt and my baseball cap as none of my other clothes are worth salvaging. I gave most of them to the orphange and the few that I have with me in Kaz, I'll leave in the park by the Hotel and I'm certain they will be used by someone! Well, I need to get Sam in the bath. Thanks for reading and thinking good thoughts from so far away. It really does help to read all of your comments!!

Night Night

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday May 19th

Hello from Almaty! We've had a busy day, but are so happy to be on our way home. Sam had a great first flight and only was nervous to enter the plane and loved it once we were inside. We sat next to an artist who like most people, adored him, and had him sit on her lap numerous times. She also drew him pictures of animals and he to name them in English and Russian. Sam has started to turn down food, which is a great sign. We were able to take him to the Dr. Apt. today and all is well. He will have to get a few shots back in the US, but I was expecting as much. We also filled out our US Embassy paperwork and will visit the Embassy on Tuesday as his passport will be arriving on Monday night. We then take the 0310 flight from Almaty to Frankfurt on Wednesday and arrive home the same day around 1515. A long day, but so very happy to be going home earlier than anticipated! Met up with the Blewers today and walked around in the TSUM and found many nice momentos! Don't worry Daddy I didn't buy the store, just researched a bit. Had dinner in some open air cafe and they had an elaborate menu in English and Russian, reasonable prices, and easy to find. There will be no picutures for a while as I'm on the hotels computer and i can't be bothered to down load, etc. It's quite hot here, but our guides have asked up to go up into the country side tomorrow and get a better view of the Himalayas and to some resort, should be nice as a change of scenery. My friends leave Sunday, so really I'll only have Sun/Mon to explore and then home, yippee!!

Paka from Almaty!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday May 18

Our last day in Karaganda has been a strange one. This morning it was sunny and warm so we decided to walk to the Trash Park and kick the ball. We haven’t been to the Trash Park since Mother’s Day, and I was amazed at how horrible it smelled. Either I have just gotten used to the gas smell or it was simply much more potent this morning. A nice Kazakh women came over and started to ask Sam something in Russian and then he just looked at me and she then asked his name. Her English was quite broken, but still better than my Russian, but we managed to communicate without real difficulty. She told me there was a family in her building adopting a child and preceded to give me there phone #, apartment # and building code #. She either owns the apartment or knows who lives there on a regular basis because when I spoke to the couple, they have never met that women. The sky turned black and it started to rain. Sam was perplexed as to why we would have to leave Trash Park after only 10 minutes or so of ball time. I tried to explain to him it was raining and that the ball would get too muddy and then we’d get too dirty, but it didn’t fully register and the tears came running down. Not a temper tantrum, just utter sadness about having to leave the park. Poor kid. It really started to pour when a nice Kazakh women decided to pull us into the bank with her as she felt we simply could not get caught in the rain with out a raincoat and umbrella. I’m thinking to myself, the rain is the cleanest thing I’ve seen/felt in the last month and a half, but I played the gracious tourist and came in with her. The storm subsided after about 10 minutes and we were on our way home. I decided to give the American’s a call and I’m certain I startled them a bit as in the States you would never have a ½ conversation with someone you have never met. This is their first trip outside of the US. They live in Lake Charles, LA. and are both PT’s. This is there first child and he’s a nine month old boy, William, who currently resides at Nezabudka. Here’s the funny part, before we got off the phone I never caught there name. I’m due to call them after their second visit, but won’t get a chance to meet up with them as I’m going to meet Elena and her son at some indoor playground. How sweet, Elena called me, how she got my number I know not, but I enjoyed her company immensely on our walk home last night and how kind that she thought about us having our last night here alone and asked out to do something. As much as I am ready to leave Kazakhstan like yesterday, I will be sad to leave the kind people who have befriended me while in Kaz.. I wish Elena could get a job at MAPS in the States or some other multilingual/multinational company so that her daughter and son would have more opportunities and she too could live a more comfortable life. The best lessons I've learned while in Kazakhstan was to be more thankful, more appreciative and to work harder at everything I try to accomplish in my life. I met Elena for dinner and Sam had a blast at the indoor playground. He played for an hour and then had some pizza, once again my conversations with Elena were wonderful. I know I have made a dear friend. Thank goodness for email!! Chingis and Olga stopped by with all of the official paperwork on Sam as we head out tomorrow morning for Almaty. Looks like I may get to go to the medical exam tomorrow and maybe the US Embassy on Monday, which means I could even try to take the Tuesday AM flight home, which would be wonderful! Keep your fingers crossed. I found out that on Sam’s new birth certificate his name reads Samuel Vitaliy, McCaffery. We had thought it was Vitaly, and actually we seem to use the nick-name version the most, Vitalik, so who knows what his actual passport will say?? Who cares all I know as of May 15t, 2006 the Republic of Kazakhstan views him officially as our son!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday, May 17th

The weather has changed dramatically, for the worse, it’s 30 degrees colder, windy and rainy, which means no walk for Sam and I, which in turn means we’re house bound for the day. We have found a Russian channel that was having a rhythmic gymnastics competition and Sam loved to watch them dance with the ball. It’s a nice break from the news and it’s amazing what these young girls can do with their bodies. I love how they, and ballerinas, can make the most difficult moves seem effortless. Of course, with the bad weather, comes the sporadic power surges for the lights and the television, so I made sure I took my shower first thing today for fear of the hot water not functioning. We are going to dinner with the Blewer family at their hotel tonight as they leave for Almaty tomorrow morning. Sam loves their daughter, Reagan, and it will be good to see them once again. I’m still hoping to leave on Firday morning for Almaty, I talked to Anjanette and I guess there are no night flights to Almaty, so the best I can do is for Friday. She also said there are no hotel rooms available this week-end, so I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I know the other American families that left yesterday were given the option of a crash pad at an apartment in Almaty while they had a 14 hour lay-over. So I’m hoping if worse comes to worse and there are no hotels, possibly there will be an apartment available to rent on a day by day basis. Blogger has been a bit of a pain lately as it won’t let me post photos lately. I’ll try to post some today, as I know it makes reading the blogs much more fun and interesting.

Had dinner tonight with Ronnie, Anjanette, Reagan, Olga, Luda,(Olga’s daughter) and Elena, (Anjanette’s translator) We ate at the Hotel Cosmonaut where the food was quite tasty. I had Thai Fried Rice, but nothing was fried and it was delicious. Sam had white rice, and cut up meat and apple that I brought from home. I know that sounds and is tacky, but I figured if Anjanette has been doing it for Reagan for 3 wks, I could do it with Sam for one night! Sam of course was well behaved and Anjanette gave him 3 toy cars so he was in heaven!! After dinner I knew that Olga lived in the opposite direction from where I needed to go, so I figured Sam and I would take the #6 van to our apartment. This would have been no problem had the street that the Cosmonaut is located not been completely closed off to all traffic. Our driver had to literally drive through the city park to find some back road to gain access to the hotel!! He was driving his Honda minivan as if it were a Hummer.

Elena said she’d walk me to the next bus stop and I was game as Sam and I hadn’t walked as of yet because of the rain earlier in the day. Elena, from MAPS, is awesome, so sweet and kind, speaks English very well and gave me a true insight about life in Kazakhstan now and when it was part of the Soviet regime. She stated that although Kazakhstan has a long way to go things are much better now than before. Now people have a chance to do better, but still it’s a struggle. People now often joke about 2030. 2030 is they’re slogan/goal to have their country be like the US as far as standard of living and general infrastructure. As an example they use military time, so people will make jokes and say, ah, it’s 2030 and we’re still living as we are, what’s the deal?? She says most people are not very confident this will happen, but overall life has improved a great deal. She says she can remember a time under Soviet rule where you could easily have gone to prison for making such a joke about a political goal/party/person in the govt. She said she has never been “hungry”, but that her mother and grandmother had known real hunger in the Ukraine just before the WWII. She also said she can remember a time under the Soviet Regime where if you went into a grocery store all you could by was flour,sugar, bread and eggs and if there was meat or cheese available, you would have to wait in long lines for several hours. She stated the worst time she has experienced was right when the Soviet Union fell and they had one winter when there was no gas, no electricity, or hot water, except sporadically. In her apartment, she only had these things from 0300-0600 so she would have to get up, take a shower, cook for the day and turn on the heat full blast and hope it would keep the house warm enough for the day. She remembers her daughter having to do her homework by candlelight and with mittens because it was so cold. She also says there is a definitely separation from Russians and Kazakhs, in regards to higher level jobs and relationships. Friendships a-ok, dating and marriage, that’s a different story. It was almost a bit too surreal as she was speaking of all of this and stating how improved everything was and yet we’re walking down a sidewalk that is half dirt, half potholes, next to decrepit apartment complexes, as cars and buses whiz by spurting mass amounts of exhaust fumes, and old babushka’s are sweeping the streets with brooms made out of sticks.

The good news is that Sam and I will be on a plane to Almaty on Friday morning and hope to get everything done by Tuesday afternoon so that we can catch the Wednesday 0115/0145 flight to Frankfurt and be Westward Bound!! YEE HAW!!! Again, I won’t feel comfortable until Sam and I are air bound and en route for Deutschland, but wow, would it be great to be in the States one week from today!!! I hope to be able to post some photos today

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tuesday May 16th

The day started out cloudy and by early afternoon the sun was out, but I was not in the best of moods. The entire group of American’s I had met by Trash Park #3 departed today. I will miss our daily laughs about Karaganda, our adoption experience, and watching our children enjoy each other’s company. We did not leave the house til 1400, not that there was anything to do, but Sam managed to keep busy with puzzles, magna doodle and leap pad and puzzles. Just wait til he gets to America and he sees how fortunate he and his brother, Ian are to have so many books and toys, and access to a library and decent parks and a safe clean house, etc. etc..

Can I just say how much I want to be back home. Not just in my own home with my family, but in America. I’m about ready to lose my mind. Hopefully we’re still on target to be out of Karaganda either Thursday night or early Friday morning. My goal is to try and get us out of Almaty at about 0100 next week Wednesday vs waiting until next Saturday. I know it’s only a few days difference, but for those of you reading this who have already traveled and for those of you who have not yet gone, believe you me, a few days, a few hours makes a HUGE difference. Let’s see, the high lights of the day are that we once again went to the park to kick the ball. We did meet a nice young woman and her daughter and her grammy at the huge waterfall and they couldn’t believe our son spoke a bit of understandable Russian and understandable English. She also couldn’t believe he was from the detsky dom and still had such a nice demeanor. Go figure! That’s our Sam, the charmer! We also went to Mario’s pizza for no real reason except for the fact that we didn’t have to eat the same meal over again and I didn’t have to do the dishes in the yellowish- brown water. I know my tone is a bit snooty today, but I’m just so over being here for this long. There really is no reason the process has to take as long as it does and it definitely does not benefit the child or the family to either have to make two trips or to have to split up your family so some can go home and some need to stay behind. All I know for certain is that Sam is well adjusted and very excited to go on airplane and go home to his Daddy, his brother and his doggy, as I am!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday May 15th

We woke up this morning at 0930! Sam went to bed around 2100, but after typing a few emails, posting to our blog and finishing reading my “fluff” novel, I could not fall asleep, by this time it was already 2330. I played solitaire for about ½ hour and still none the sleeper. By 0200 I was wide awake. Eventhough I was able to talk to Tim and Ian earlier, I felt a bit sappy after reading my “fluff” book and simply wanted to tell Tim that I was crazy mad in love with him. I hadn’t even planned on talking to Ian, as I really just wanted to make it short and sweet. Ian wanted to talk and was very pleased that he and Daddy had already gone to the park and McDonalds. He also had a giggle when he told me he had chocolate milk and some sweets. What a cutie pie, then it was his traditional, “I love you, bye”. It so nice to hear him in good spirits! Even though I have dreaded every minute away from my husband and son, I know it was good for Tim and Ian to have some simply Daddy and son time and good for Sam and I to truly connect as Mother and son. Sam is doing really well, his vocabulary increases daily and seems to be enjoying being a regular child with ups and downs. Even with his downs, he is growing. Now when he doesn’t listen or breaks the rules and has either sit in the chair or stand against the wall, he’s angry and has no problem letting me know via crying vs. in the beginning when he could either sit or stand for long periods of time and literally look right past you. We talk about the mistake he’s made and I make certain to always tell him that I had to teach Ian the same way and that I still and love him very much. Then, with a hug and a smile, all is back to normal once again.

I received a call from Chingis, our in country coordinator, today, stating that all went well at the court house and we’ll need to go and get Sam’s passport photos taken today at 1400. Of course it’s now 1430 and a month ago this would have drove me insane, now I know it’s simply par for the course in Kazakhstan. I’ll call him at 1500 to verify that we’re still going and then we’ll hope for the best. After that we’ll take a walk down to the TSUM to get some $$$ as the ATM at our local grocery store is broken and look for a US Flag bandana for Sam. Jo and Agnes bought won for Tanya and I thought it would be too cute for him to wear it when we touched down in Newark!! I forgot to mention yesterday that Sam can now complete all 4 of his mini puzzles by himself!! Granted they only have 16 pieces in them, but for a child who more than likely hasn’t been stimulated that often I thought it was a great accomplishment. We did actually go and get Sam’s passport photos taken. Of course, we’ve taught Sam to say “cheese” when your photo is being taken so that we can see his nice smile. This concept is not shared in this former Soviet Republic as photos are still quite stoic and grumpy looking. Sam was then rewarded with 12 photos of himself with nice happy smiles, he was elated, as was I; the photographer, not so much!! That afternoon we then took a walk to TSUM to find his stars and stripes bandana/doo-rag and we finally found it and an ATM that would take my card so that I can have enough tenge to pay for my ticket to Almaty, our driver and translator and the last few days of rent. In the early evening we had dinner, took a bath and read some books, nothing to exciting, but again, another day down, one less day to go!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sunday May 14

Wow, what a night last night. We had about 5 calls in the middle of the night, all in Russian, all wrong numbers. By 0400 I had had enough and unplugged the phone. Of course I then regretted that action when I checked our email that next morning and read that Ian wanted to wake me up on Mother’s Day to tell me that he loves me very much! He even tried staying up until 2100 but then finally he fell asleep. I love that little boy more than I can ever express to him or to anyone else. Although I am very sad not to be with both of my boys, I like the sound of that) I am very happy to witness the overall growth that Sam exudes daily. As I’m writing this Sam just came over to investigate what I’m doing and asked, “Mama please kiss” 5 kisses later, he’s still smiling. What better a gift for Mother’s Day than for a mother to witness the transformation of her son from a person devoid of showing any sort of emotion to a wonderful, happy, and well adjusted child capable of receiving and giving love.

Chingis, our in country coordinator came over to collect the rent and to explain next week's schedule regarding receiving Sam’s new passport, birth certificate and adoption decree. Chingis said I could even possibly have an appointment at the US Embassy in Almaty on Friday, but if not, I definitely should be in Almaty by Friday night!! Yippee, the sooner to Almaty the better. Perhaps we’ll even be out of Kaz before the 27th. I’m not holding my breath about any of this, because I have witnessed to many times many delays within the Kaz bureaucratic system. I’ll just hope for the best! Chingis, made it clear about making certain we did our yearly post placement reports and stated that until Sam is 18, perhaps one of their government officials may come to visit us and see how Sam is progressing. I highly doubt that would ever happen, but if it did, so be it, because we know we can and will give Sam a great life, both in terms of standard of living and having the opportunity to become part of a family and thrive as a person. He also asked if I would email a picture a picture of Sam monthly to see that he’s ok. I’m thinking to myself, whatever, but, then again, if my following of the “rules” enables more people to adopt some of these children, older children like Sam, then it’s the least I can do. Plus, I love taking pictures of my boys!! Well, it’s sunny out and that means we have to hit the park and enjoy the day!!! We did just that! Once again we walked to the big park with the lake and played soccer in the grassy area!! We had a blast, I love to hear Sam say, “goal.” We then sat next to the lake and enjoyed a bit of sun and watched the boys swim in the very cold and very dirty, trashy, water. Sam said, “Mama, silly boys.” We also walked passed by the giant fountain to get to the park today and many children decided it was a great makeshift swimming pool as did the pigeons!! We then headed back to Trash Park. It was early evening and the park was packed and today had a very strong smell of gas and burning trash. Most of the American’s will be having court tomorrow and then leaving Tuesday morning, so this was the last time we would all see one another. The park was also packed with Kazakh kids, so it was nice to see so many people having a nice time, despite the horrid conditions of the park. Jo and Agnes came back from a few hours of shopping alone. Jo then secretly handed Sam a “sveetok, a.k.a, a flower”, and then had him hand it to me for Mother’s Day. How sweet was that!! Kuddos to Jo!! We took a photo for posterity’s sake at Trash Park. Unfortunately you can’t get a good feel of how nasty trash park truly is because you can’t see the nasty pipe that Sam and I are sitting on, and we’re blocking the view of 1 of the 6 or so dumpsters once again on fire. Sharon, Ivan’s mom, was nice enough to give us her extra Flintstone vitamins, as Ivan is going back to the detsky-dom until she’s allowed to come back and pick him up and more than likely he would not receive them on a daily basis if he were to bring them back with him. We then ventured back home for a breakfast style dinner of oatmeal, bananas and banana yogurt, yum, yum and a few books before night-night. We did receive a call from Daddy and Ian. It was great to hear Ian’s voice and I could tell that all was truly well, without me. This was a really good sign, well it’s 99% good, and 1% hard for his Mama to take because she misses him 99% and is only ok with all of this about 1% of the time. But, that's another day down from Asia, hope all is well with you and yours.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saturday, May 13

Today marks our 15th day after court, which means that the court “officially” recognizes that Samuel Vitaly McCaffery is really part of the McCaffery Clan. Yippee! That means that next week we’ll work on getting Sam’s new birth certificate, adoption decree and passport, that much closer to being “home.” If all goes well, 2 weeks from today we’ll be flying towards the West. Yahoo!! Today was wonderful, Sam slept til 0930, 13.5 hrs!!! That boy has the strongest bladder on the planet!! It was a sunny day and I knew we would once again need to hit the lake park for some ball time!! We had another picnic lunch and watched the BBC World. He loves to say “dot com.” I also watched an English speaking wanna be, “This Old House” on Al Jazzeera or some other random Arabic channel. The Arab channels crack me up because on the one hand they say they want their women to be modest, covered up from head to toe and then on their soap operas they have them in sexy clothing with make-up, go figure!! Sam helped me hang up our laundry and then we packed our tote and hit the road to the park. It had to be 80 degrees. It’s nice because it’s a dry heat, like Phoenix except, it’s definitely NOT Phoenix!! Anyhow, it was great to be outside for hours on end. We met up with the Blewer family and the kids had a great time on the “carny rides” and kicking the ball in the sand. Later in the evening, the Buchanans came over so that Ryan could try to IM his friends back home in MA. Sam and Tanya had fun being able to talk in Russian a bit, and she, just like Sam, loved the Leap Pad. They, Ryan, Tanya and Sam played hide and go seek at least 20x and had a blast. You have to remember our vast castle is a mere 500 ft and there are only so many places to hide. Regardless, the kids made the best of it, while the parents laughed once again about their various Kaz adventures. I’m really going to miss the Buchanans, they’re great people and a ton of fun!! Sam went to bed 2 hrs late and I’m certain he’ll be wiped out as we spend a good 3 hrs in the sun and we all have a bit of a sun burn!! Well, that’s it from Asia!! Oh, Robin and Erin, I am very envious that you are in Cabo sans Delia, so live it up and have a nice froofy drink for me, ok have many froofy drinnks for me!!! Today’s photos are of Sam and I at the park, (not, it won't post), of Anjanette sliding down with Reagan and Sam, and finally, of Sam and Reagan enjoying the mini-roller coaster. Sam adores Reagan, they both lived at Nezabudka and are only a few months difference in age., I wonder if he remembers her from there or if he’s just testing out his “playa” moves while he’s still young!! He,he,he…… Night –Night.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday May 12

After posting to our blog last night I realized it was only the 11th and not the 12th, what a bummer. Last night I did not sleep well, towards morning I had many mini-nightmares. Then to come to the realization that it was “still the 12th” was not too grand! Although we did have another sunny day, we did not leave the apartment until noon to go and pick up another Nursat card and some fruit and bread from the supermarket. Sam loves going to the supermarket. Since I was internally in a bit of a bad mood, I decided I needed to do something goofy and I decided we would have a picnic in our living room. Sam enjoyed it immensely and thus my mood improved. Thank goodness he is a very easy child over all. How we were blessed with two wonderful children I know not and had he come with a ton of “issues” staying the entire time would have been truly trying.

Agnes called to say the kids were at Trash Park and invited us down to play. By the time we got to the park they had gone in for a bit, but Sam and I still had fun pretending we were Beckham and Pele! We played for about 40 minutes until Agnes came back down and we walked once again to Asia to window shop!! It was quite warm and Agnes invited Sam and I up for a drink. Oh how I wished it were a margarita and I was on a beach in the Maldives, but just having good adult conversation and laughter was a good runner up There son, Ryan, had made a list of what he’d miss and not miss about Kazakhstan, and we were all in tears at least 10x. They received some great news that they will have their court date on Monday. While I’m extremely happy for them, I’ll be sad to see them leave as they have made my trip so much more enjoyable. I’m so glad they live in MA. It will be great to see them down the road and laugh about old times and to marvel at the improvement in our children’s English language skills and overall development. Plus, I’ve always wanted to visit Salem, MA. Yes, they do have a black cat and yes, Halloween is crazy and fun in Salem!! I had asked the same two questions myself!!

After hanging out at the Taj Mahal for a couple hours Sam and I headed home for dinner, a few books and bed. Not too terribly exciting, but it was a sunny warm day and that makes all the difference for me!! 6 weeks ago today we left Newark for Kaz. I hope to talk to Tim and Ian this week-end. I miss them very much! Being apart from both of them for nearly two weeks has been very, very difficult. Today’s pictures are of silly Sam with my travel pillow on his head, and of Karaganda’s alternative to trash pick-up!! .Oh, before I forget, the bad news of the day is that my friends, Anjanette, Ronnie, and their daughter, Reagan, had another really tough day. The soon to be son, Bennett is in the hospital with what they say is bronchitis and due to Kaz’s bureaucracy they will only get to visit him once or twice and maybe not til Monday. Please think good thoughts for them and give your own children or pets extra hugs tonight and be thankful you and yours are healthy. Night-Night.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thursday, May 12

Today was the first nice day we’ve had in Karaganda in two weeks. It has finally become warm enough to wear pants and a shirt without a jacket. Of course the locals probably thought I was crazy and that Sam would have pneumonia or bronchitis by the end of the day due to my lack of layering with 3 jackets, a scarf and tights under his pants, as if it was 20 degrees. I’m sure Sam’s wearing of my baseball cap either backwards or to the side like a “baller” didn’t help us to “blend” in any better either!! Oh well, so be it!!

Today we took a walk to the TSUM to compare prices on souvenirs vs. the Asia store. The Asia store won hands down. So, I think I’ll check back next week to see if they’re product has changed or decreased in price and get some more goodies for folks back home or wait until the TSUM in Almaty as Tim said they had a ton of things. We then walked down to the park with the lake. Many of the water fountains are now working and it with the warm sun, it was great to be outside regardless of the amount of air pollution, trash, and dirt. We decided to kick the ball at the beach but then moved a bit inland to the semi-grass tree area to keep Sam out of the sun as I forgot his hat! We did that for about an hour and half. We even got a bit of a sun burn on our noses!! Sam is a magnet for making new friends; I think people love hearing him speak English and laugh at my Russian!! Anyways, it makes me feel better to see these native stoic people smile a bit, regardless if it’s with me or at me!! We then ventured to the grocery store and a small shop above the grocery store that sells make-up. I bought a cheap shinny lipstick and lip pencil for about $3.00 as my lips feel as if they just might fall off due to the dryness her in Kaz., The sales lady was nice, but I can’t wait to get back to America where you can either shop without someone constantly following you or starring at you, (because each shop is all of a 12x12 space) and where I can touch a product and examine it. Here you’re meant to feel like a child even though you’re the one with the cash interested in purchasing their merchandise. Of course we went to the supermarket and Sam had to pick the aisle with his “tavanish” or friend and they smiled and talked a bit prior to our checking out!! It’s quite cute!! Children and parents don't seem to show that much affection in public or real social interaction here so I think they think it's a bit odd and at the same time nice that I constantly talk to Sam and ask him to help me load the groceries or pack the groceries regardless of how much time or effort it may take.

After that it was a bit of school time, working on letters, numbers and colors. We then had an hour of books and it was off to bed! Not to exciting today, but every day done, means one more day closer til we’re leaving on a jet plane to the West. Yippee!! Night-night!!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wednesday May 10th

We woke up this morning to sunny skies. What a nice surprise! Agnes called to see what we had planned for the day. I told her after I finished writing my daily column for the NY Times and sending it to my editor lickity-spilt via dial-up internet, our day was completely open. We met outside the Assorti Café at around 1115 and walked to a small shop called Asia, or that’s what we American’s call it, as that’s what the Cyrillic letters resemble. Anyhow it’s on the same street as the TSUM and has many souvenirs at decent prices. I bought a large ornately painted stacking doll set with 7 dolls for about $20.00. They also had dombres, hand painted crafts, and amber jewlery, which I’ve been told is very chic here. Jo and Agnes nearly bought out the store today; last week Jo bought a dombre there and it is so big he has to send it back home via DHL. Sam noticed them as well and said, “dombre” and made the sign for guitar. I may try to find a small one to put on a shelf on his bedroom wall. He was already given some handmade crafts from his little friend at the detsky-dom, so I thought maybe a small doll set and either a yurt or a mini-dombre would make a nice Kazakhstan themed wall shelf for his room. We came home at lunch and have been working on our colors and words. The only words he has trouble remembering are his colors. He can point to them no problem whatsoever; our newest game is “in Ruski karova, in English cow” to anything he can point to. Even though he cannot make full sentences, his comprehension is amazing for a boy who has only heard English for 5 weeks. So far the best thing of the day has been Sam’s longing for cuddling. Today he just wanted to be held and snuggled and kissed for a good 5 minutes. I kept double checking that he was “ok” and not “grustno” sad, and he just smiled and said “ no, no silly mama.” We just may go outside to our nasty courtyard and kick the ball in the dirt for a while to pass some time. Our big plans for the evening are to walk to down the street two blocks and have dinner at Assorti Café with Jo, Agnes, Ryan, and Tanya. Dinner turned into a party with 14 Americans in a very small restaurant. It was a nice night out and then Sam and I came home got into our jammies and read Rumble in the Jungle. After I tucked him in safe and sound the phone rang and I figured it was either my Dad or Beth, nope it was my Aunt Louise, from CA. It was a nice surprise to hear from her! I’m certain some of you readers are wondering why I didn’t say it was Tim. He would like to call, but I asked him not to as I’m a softie and it’s really too hard for me to talk to either him or Ian without crying and I figured that would already make a tough situation worse. Well, I need to go write my sweetheart an email so it’s time to say goodbye! Today’s photos are at the Assorti Café, one of Sam and I and of the Buchanans; Jo, Agnes and Ryan and little Sam popping his head out!!. Scrap the photo of Sam and I as it won't post!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tuesday May 9th

We woke up this morning planning on attending the “big parade”, celebrating the end of WWII, but it never happened. We were told it would go down the street where TSUM is located. I met up with Anjanette, Ronnie, and their daughter, Reagan at Café Ankara around 1000 and we decided to walk around inside the TSUM to waste some time before the parade started as it was a bit chilly. The Blewers bought a new digital camera and we found a play area where children are dropped off while their parents shop. We of course did not leave our children. Sam had a great time sliding into a pool of balls, shooting a basketball into a hoop, swinging on a ladybug swing, and playing in a playhouse. He seemed very please to have different toys with which to play.

We then ran into some more Americans who happened to be Missionaries who have lived here for 10 yrs and are sad about returning to the States in June. 10 years! I was ready to go home after 10 days!! Still, they were very nice and it turns out when Anjanette was here adopting Reagan, she went to their mission’s main house for Thanksgiving. What a small world! We gave up on the parade by 1215 and walked to Mario’s Pizza for lunch and it was as yummy as ever. We then parted ways and Sam decided he needed to go potty about 6 blocks from home. We made it home safe and sound, because finding a public bathroom it is very difficult to do and when you do, you need to pay for them and they don’t often come with toilet paper!! After making our daily trip to the grocery store the hours slowly passed by reading books, coloring and watching some BBC World. As I was reading Sam is book before night-night, I happened to peek at my watch and noticed in Dover, it would be 1000 and Ian would be at preschool. I thought about how much I miss taking him to school, walking hand-in-hand to class talking about what he hoped the day would bring. By 1000 they usually are saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I remember last September when he came home one day after school and said the whole thing. I was so proud of my patriotic 3.5 yr old.

While I’m so happy Sam is thriving, I miss being Ian’s mother. I miss everything about him and our lives together as mother and son. Straight up, I just don’t want to be here anymore. Even though I know it was the best thing to do for Sam, I know it was not the best thing to do for Ian, and having to make that decision will haunt me for a very long time.

That being said, I wanted to leave today’s blog on a positive note. I love the bread and mandarin oranges in Karaganda. Also, the wrought iron work on the windows and buildings is quite ornate and beautiful.

Photos of the day are of the post office with a banner celebrating the Victory Day in 1945 and Sam at the TSUM slide. For those of you coming to Karaganda reading this. The play area in the TSUM is located in on the 2nd floor near the rest rooms, in the SW corner of the building.

Monday, May 08, 2006

May 8th Photos

Monday May 8th

Although I dread the morning, I love hearing Sam’s sweet voice whispering, “Mama” each day. This morning we had breakfast and then headed out to the trash park prior to visiting the grocery store and video store for some batteries for the Leap Pad. The good news is that I was able to buy 4 new AA batteries, which have gone up 40 tenge a battery since last week. The bad news is I need a Phillips screwdriver to open up the battery case. I’ve tried a fork, a spoon, a butter and steak knife and have had no luck. I’m hoping one of the other American families may have a Swiss Army knife with them because if we lose Leap Pad, Sam will be quite bummed. Leap Pad has been a great learning tool for both of our boys and a must for anyone adopting a toddler. Sam has made a new friend at the grocery store as we seem to always have the same check-out person and she and Sam have cute mini conversations in broken English and Russian.

While walking to the trash park we noticed that the main drag, Blvd Mira, was closed for some sort of giant running/walking race that will be taking part sometime today. Tomorrow is another national holiday, so perhaps it’s in relation to that, I have no clue. All I know is that it was nice to walk down the street without the heavy smell of exhaust and enjoy the blue sky and sunshine among the blooming trees. Sam has become more brave when riding playground toys and wishes to often go higher or faster. His English is also improving to 3 or 4 word phrases. He also understands much more complex phrases and sentences. For example, I can ask him to put away my pillow on my bed and he can do it, or I’ll ask him to put the bag of groceries on the table in the kitchen and can do that as well. It’s quite amazing to watch his level of comprehension improve daily as well as his overall disposition. Sam still loves Spiderman and I draw Spidy often on the Magna Doodle. He also loves to wear the Spiderman underwear I brought for he and Ian and sing, “Spiderman, Spiderman, spins his web because he can, oh yeah, we love Spiderman.” It’s hilarious!!

This afternoon we attended an informal birthday party for Karina, who turned 9. She will be living with the Huntington Family of Winchester, MA, and will become their 4th child. She seemed quite pleased with her simple gifts and much more social than when I first met her at the pancake party. Their apartment is tres chic compared to our Ghetto Fabulous home away from home. After we had cake and ice cream we then headed out on our long walk to Hotel Cosmonaut to visit the Brewers. The walk took us about 45 minutes through the park and many people seemed to be off work and getting ready for tomorrow’s national holiday celebrating their liberation from Germany while part of the USSR and their “independence from the USSR.” All of the American families plan on meeting as a group tomorrow morning to sit and watch the parade. Just look for the baseball caps and the women not in stillettos with blue jean and that's where will be. Hopefully the weather will be nice! While at the hotel Sam was a saint and a stud. He was very polite and very loving to his Mama; giving kisses to me just for fun. He also asked to kiss their daughter Reagan, 3 times. She finally gave in and let him kiss her hand. It was too funny. It’s was about 1845 by the time we left the hotel and I didn’t want to 1) walk through “Gorky Park” alone and 2) make Sir Chubby walk another 45 minutes as I knew we still had to get through dinner and bedtime, so we took the bus back home, or better put, a jacked-out van. It was all of 25 cents and a pleasant ride, for me, but Sam was petrified. As I put him into the van a kind women held on to him as I hopped on and he lost it. He cried for about 5 minutes and then was fine. Poor kid!! We then came home had dinner, a bath, a story and then night-night. Now I can start a “fluff” novel Anjanette gave me so I don’t have to play scrabble against myself or solitaire until I fall asleep at night.

Funny notes about Sam: he is the gassiest child I have ever seen or better put heard. We need to buy stock in Beano now!! That being said, he always says, excuse me, which is hilarious when you’re in a 12x12 room with 8 people and he has said excuse me a mere 10x in 5 minutes!! He can not sound out the letter H to save his life, but his English is much better than my Russian so I should hush up on that one. Whenever I ask him to put on his shoes, he always brings me mine. Too sweet!! Unlike Ian, he loves getting his hair rinsed in the bath. I can pour the water right over him and not only does he not cry, he laughs and giggles away regardless if the soap has entered his eyes or not.

Thanks to the big man upstairs for giving us two wonderful boys to enhance our lives and the world. Today’s photo are Reagan and Sam in the Turkish Bath and Sam walking through the park with a stick looking like the All-American Boy that he is and will become!!! PS. Special kudos to my dear friend Beth who keeps me laughing and smiling a mere 5 or 6000 miles away by her daily phone calls. Your friendship and phone calls really enhance my day to day existence and life. Merci beaucoup!!

pictures won'tost will try again later

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday May 7th from Kazakhstan

I went to bed last night terribly homesick. I listened to far too many sappy songs on my Ipod Shuffle. Once I heard True Companion by Marc Cohen, I completely lost it and missed Tim beyond belief. I envisioned holding his hand while walking around our subdivision at dusk while both of our boys were racing their tricycles down the street. It was picture perfect in my mind and I would have given anything for that to have been reality vs. wishful thinking.

Now back to reality. Hmm…What can we do today? We might meet up with some of the other Americans this afternoon for some bowling, but if not, I think we’ll take a walk and then head to either a souvenir shop or for our regular walk to the park, which on the week-ends has “carny” rides and games!! Yippee. Well, we did meet up with the other Americans but we did not go bowling. We took a nice walk along the lake and visited some of the carny rides for little tykes. We then walked to the market for a few items. The best thing of the day was when Sam grabbed my hand in the park and kissed it for no reason whatsoever and smiled. I had some pistachios with my dinner and Sam decided the shells would be great things to count. Tonight we went up to 20!! Sam loves to watch soccer. I took a break from the BBC and turned to the Russian station which had a soccer game on and the boy went hog wild. This is awesome because the boy can kick the ball like Pele. He also kept saying “no hands, yes feet” and thought it was hilarious that soccer players can use their heads to bounce the ball. Overall the day has been a rough one emotionally. Sam is doing well and thinks everyday is wonderful, where as I am honestly dreading getting up each morning as I’m just bored out of my mind for the most part and incredibly homesick for the US and my everyday structured life style. Well, that’s it from Kaz. Ian, I hope you like your doggie in a bee costume photo!! I miss and love you Buddy!

Right before I posted this I saw your post from home. Ian,you look so hansome and cool in your colonial attire!! Of course more tears are now flowing but they are tears of joy for how wonderful you are and how proud Mommy is of you for being the great boy that you are!!

Hello from the USA, where Tim, Ian and Tim's mom (Grammy Mim) have been dealing with strep throat. Ian was feeling well enough to participate in Dover Days--Dover DE's annual celebration of colonial times. Ian and members of his class did a great job at the Maypole and looked wonderful in colonial attire. Ian has been absent from school and only made one day this week due to his strep, so we weren't sure what he was supposed to wear. We found out 2 hours before that he was supposed to be dressed up in colonial attire. This is what we were able to throw together in 30 minutes. It all worked out fine except that Grammy is coming down with the same symptoms her boys had earlier in the week. Hopefully we'll all be better soon.

We all miss Nell and Sam and can't wait for their arrival back home. We're proud of Nell for hanging in there when she so obviously wants to be home. I know Sam will aprreciate his time with Mama. The house is still on the market so we know they'll have a nice home to come back to. Ian is handling it well although his sickness has thrown off his normal routine a bit. We'll get it back to normal before the sheriff (Nell) returns. Thank you all for your thought and prayers for Nell and Sam. They are appreciated.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Saturday May 6th

This morning I felt very pampered having Joe cook Sam and I thick, tasty pancakes, pears, bananas, and great coffee, along with a few other families adopting various aged children in different orphanages within Karaganda. Meeting Jo and Agnes and some of the other American couples has been a real G-d send for my sanity. It makes my day 100x better to be able to talk to adults on a regular basis. It’s also nice for Sam to be able to speak a bit of Russian with children in a relaxed environment vs. at the detsky-dom where I believe he felt as if his every move was constantly being watched and in turn could never truly relax or speak freely with us or his “roommates.” Sam woke up this morning at 0530 and was a bit sad that he couldn’t get up and play. I asked him if he wanted to lay in either Sam’s bed or in Mama’s bed and he played the I can’t speak and I’m going to pout attitude so I carried him to his bed, kissed his forehead and said, “night night.” He fell back asleep til around 0830. No toy this morning to greet me as I awoke, he must have been hungry because he was very eager to put my pillow on his chair for breakfast time as our poor little peanut can barely reach the table. When I told him no and tried to explain to him that we were going to eat breakfast at Tanya’s house in broken English and Russian hee got all teary and pouted for about 5 minutes until I told him to get his shoes on and that we were going to Tanya’s papa’s house. The kids and the adults both had a great time at the pancake party and then we hit the Trash Park for about 20 minutes and met Sharon and her son, Ivan and played ball for a bit. It has yet to warm up, which has been a bit frustrating as being outside helps both Sam and I enjoy the day much more. We came home and I gave Sam a bath and then we had a great lunch. Sam’s English comprehension and and spoken word improves daily. I’m hoping Tim will really notice a difference in 3 weeks when we return home. Yes, in 3 weeks from today Sam and I should be on a plane for Frankfurt and then Newark! Everyone keep your fingers crossed. In addition to Sam’s great strides in language, he has made amazing strides in showing emotion, and enjoying love and affection. He gives kisses daily without being asked to do so and it’s good to see him smile and giggle daily. He’s also a ham and I have a feeling he’ll be a real jokester once he conquers the English language. I quasi-watched two interesting programs on BBC World today. I love BBC World on the week-ends as they have great 1 hr documentaries on various topics. Today’s included the growth of Dubai and the Palm Islands and their plan to make the largest hotel and glitzy area, like a super Las Vegas for the Arabic World. It looked pretty cool. Then there was a great story about an Israeli man David Bandiboin. He believes through music, essentially the learning and playing of classical western music both Palestinians in the occupied areas and Israelis have a chance to harmonize and understand one another better. While it’s was a bit on the sappy side, it’s always nice to see/hear about stories where people still use the power of human kindness and compassion to learn and solve issues vs. slander and force. Today Sam was a English talking machine. He kept pointing to pictures in our Russian/English Picture Dictionary and saying, in English Please. It was great to see his quest for knowledge. He also has almost mastered counting to 15 with no help. We took a quick walk to the market to pick up another Nursat Card and get some potato perogi and frozen broccoli and ran into Jo, Agnes, Ryan and Tanya as well as Sharon and her son, Ivan. They were looking for the Assorti Café. Of course Tanya picked up Sam and wanted to take him with them to dinner being the mean Mama that I am, I made him come with me!! While walking home from the store, I caught a glimpse of and elderly women, probably in her 70’s. At first, I thought she was a man, because she had on men’s shoes and a blazer and then I noticed she was wearing different colored gloves and walking in the direction of our giant trash cans and was about to go dumpster diving. I know this happens all over the world but to see it happen in front of you, while you're with your child as your returning home from the grocery store with no real cares in the world was another. I opened my grocery bag and ripped our flat bread in half and simply gave it to her. She smiled and walked on. Sam seemed a bit puzzled and I simply told him some people have “nyet food” and you need to try and help others less fortunate than yourself when you can, just as we’ve taught Ian. I spoke to my friend Anjanette today and things are going pretty well for her clan. I must admit, for as much as I’m ready to leave Kaz, I’m thankful that we have had some extra freedoms that other families have not. While some families have been promised to have a court date within 6 days of their bonding period, others have been told you will go to the orphanage visit 2x/day and go back to your hotel and apartment and go to the grocery store only as needed. They have been told it’s not in your best interest to speak to other Americans a/o explore Karaganda. So, how the heck are these people suppose to tell their children where they’re from, what their culture was like, the positives, the negatives, etc. That seems ridiculous. I’m glad Jo and Agnes have found a “souvenir” shop that has both Kazakh and Russian items for sale, as I would like to get one or two mementos from his homeland. While I’m very happy Sam is growing and thriving on multiple levels, I really miss Ian, his companionship, his conversation, and his sweet kisses and hugs. Today's photo is from the Pancake Party. Their apartment is full of these gigantic stuffed animals that you would win from playing gams at a State Fair or something .

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday May 5th

Happy Cinco dey Mayo!! Oh how I wish I was at a little cantina along the Riverwalk in San Antonio drinking a fine margarita on the rocks with salt and Grand Marnier while snaking on chips, salsa, and guacamole. Sam slept from 2200- 0800. We once again started our daily by snuggling with Leap Pad and Magna Doodle in Mama’s bed and then had breakfast around 0845. After breakfast I watched the news a bit and noticed that the VP was in Astana today as the EU is looking for other suppliers of gas. Russia seems to be monopolizing the playing field in both production, and distribution. I guess Kaz has a decent amount of gas and oil and would like to run a pipeline by passing Russia to Europe. Good Luck to them! Anything to help boost their economy and standard of living sounds like a good move to me! This morning Sam had two bouts with sadness. We’re working on teaching him he needs to ask for something vs simply taking it and then giving you a sneaky smile. Now I really don’t care if he puts on my baseball hat, but I need to teach him that you simply can’t take something because you want it, or if it’s not yours. He took my hat and I asked if he asked first and he gave me that blank stare of “I’m a detsky-dom kid” and when I made him put it back he pouted for a good 10 minutes. I thought it was done, so when I asked him to do a puzzle and he acted as if he had never seen or done one, I knew he was still pouting and after another 10 minutes of moping and my announcement of Mama and Sam Vitalik are going to the grocery store and he was a-ok.. We went to the grocery store, Sam loves to help push the cart and put our items into the cart. My favorite salami stick was sold out, but I took a chance and bought another version from the same company, and it was just as tasty for 100 tenge less. Wow, what a risk taker I am these days. Sam still has a hard time not being where food is at all times. So I make him play in the main room while I prepare the food. Still he can’t help but stand at the very edge and stare as if it was his last meal. Again, I really don’t care if comes into the kitchen and watches me prepare the food, but he needs to understand that when either Mama or Papa ask him to do or not do something he needs to listen to us and simply do it. . So, he pouted once again and after a few more minutes of sulking all was well as I asked him to come to lunch!! We went home and had a fancy lunch of bread, cheese, salami, black olives, pistachios and a mandarin orange, it was very “yum, yum” as our Sam would say. . Ian, you’d be so proud of your brother, he loves to put his coat on the way you learned how to do so from school. Your brother also loves to blow bubbles and still likes to sing the Spiderman song!! We then played some ball and headed out for our daily walks. We went back the same way as yesterday and took some photos and then walked back to the Trash Park where I met Jo and Agnes and after a bit there son Ryan came down and played a bit. They were locked out of their apartment. Ryan is so sweet. He’s 13, a really nice guy. This is going to date me a bit, but he’s like Lloyd Dobbler in the movie, Say Anything. Jo brought his coffee and coffee maker from home and I had a great cup of coffee up at their “home”. My first coffee since mid-March, wow, was it great!! They then invited Sam and I to stay for dinner. Their soon to be daughter, Tanya, loves Sam. She wants to give him everything and help him do everything. She even wanted to feed him his yogurt. She’s a very caring girl and I really hope we stay in touch and get to visit with them whenever we head back to Mass. Talk about a small world, Agnes, grew up in Malden, MA and Tim’s dad has lived there for years. By 2130 Jo wanted to go to the market across the street from our house and insisted he walk us home. We’re going to there house tomorrow morning for a “bellini” party. Pancakes for all, it should be fun!! Oh, and their apartment, it’s like the Taj Mahal. It’s 3 times the size of ours and has a European feel. I could easily live there for 2 months. I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow. Today's photos Tanya and Sam @Trash Park, Sam spinning @ park, note pipe pumping g-d knows what, a side street in Karagnada, Belly Boy and Mama, Soviet Art, Muslim architecture, Sam and some toys.. Paka

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thursday May 4th

Sam woke up late this morning at about 0750. He came in to my room with Ian’s plaid flannel pj’s and gave me a sweet, smiling “Mama.” It was nice, but instantly I thought of Ian. I saw those PJ’s and missed my morning routine with Ian; receiving many hugs and kisses and just snuggling for about 5 minutes before he “truly” wakes up. Still, while my mind may wonder throughout the day, I must stay focused on life here in Karaganda. It’s a bit warmer than yesterday, but misty vs. sunny. We’ll take a walk after lunch to get some exercise and waste some time and hope the weather improves a bit. This morning we’ve read some books, used magna doodle, played with the ball and worked on color recognition. He’s also jumped off the couch into the blankets for a bit and while this would occupy both boys for at least an hour a week or so ago, today it only held Sam’s attention for about 10 minutes. I think he really misses having Ian around, even though he can’t express “missing” someone nor can I give it a sign and truly explain the concept to him. The good news is he said he’d give Papa a kiss when we get to Amerik, as he calls it. I also trimmed his hair around his ears, the texture is so fine, Im hoping it will thicken with a proper diet. Those were to highlights of our morning.

Even though it was overcast, Sam and I took a long walk. We always do at least an hour/day, but today we were outside for a good 3 hrs. We took Blvd. Mira in the opposite direction of the TSUM. I found a great building that looked more Middle Eastern or something that could have been out of the Ottoman Empire and another building with a mosaic of Soviet political Art, with the classic Soviet Symbol of the Hammer and the Sickle. Of course this was the day I didn’t carry, my camera, but tomorrow I’ll snap a few for the blog. It’s interesting to watch such polar opposites within a country. On the one hand you have many people who are openly Muslim, covering their head, their style of dress, etc. and then just down the street you’ll have a man openly spit in front of stores or in front of women walking with their children while sipping on an open beer and think nothing of doing so. I’ve also noticed nobody really walks their dog on a leash or cleans up after their pet when need be. We also visited a smaller grocery store, not really a grocery store, more of a corner market, which had some meat that quasi-resembled the deli-section back home and smelled delicious. We also meandered off the main drag to some of hidden alleyways and side streets. I like to see more how “real life” exists in Karaganda and wonder how the older folks think life is now vs. as part of the former USSR. Don’t worry Dad, it’s safe and I almost feel you cringing as I write this!! I’ve never felt threatened or have ever felt scared to walk anywhere in Karaganda. It just saddens me to see all the dilapidated buildings, decaying streets and mini-playground areas in such need of repair and full of trash and dirt in many of the courtyard settings of most of the apartment complexes around time. We found a few mini-playgrounds during our walk where at least 1 of the 3 toys could be used and so we’d play a bit and move onward. The sun popped out during the end of our walk and then I began my quest for a cheap coloring book. I was running low on paper for our crayons and figured Sam could use a new “toy. " I think even Magna Doodle maybe getting a bit old day after day, but not Leap Pad, thank goodness. I thought I remembered seeing a coloring book on Blvd. Mira in a small market/shop, but then I noticed we were close to Trash Park #1, where the boys loved to play, or so I thought. We did find a working swing set and one of those things you spin around and jump on while it’s spinning. A few minutes later a girl around 9 and her father came by. She said hello, in a very strong accent and we said hello back Her father said I spoke English well and I thought to myself I should I’ve been speaking it for 30 plus years and simply smiled. Turned out they’re from Salem, MA. We gabbed a bit and then another American family came over and they’re from Winchester, MA. Turns out this is the same family Tim had met in the grocery store about a week ago. They too, are adopting and older girl, about 8. It was great to have some real conversations and laugh about all the trials and tribulations regarding adoption and life in Kaz for its inhabitants as well as for us foreigners. Tanya, the soon to be daughter of Jo and Agnes from Salem is a sweetie, she loved Vitalik and loved playing and taking care of him while I gabbed with her Dad. Both families also have their bio children with them and we plan to all get together for dinner in the next few days or at least meet at the Trash Park once again.

The day only got better, I found a great pad of paper for Sam with a dog on the front for 30 tenge and he was so pleased! We then saw a Boxer puppy in our courtyard and Sam was very excited but then terrified as it jumped up at him and tried to lick him as all puppies do. I tried to show him it was a sweet dog, but he was not buying it. Speaking of dogs, I miss ours; she’s old, cranky and neurotic at times but she is extremely protective and loyal to our family and I miss her following me around. We were not in the apartment for more than 5 minutes then one of my good friends called from the States, I couldn’t believe it, it was so great to talk to her. Thanks Beth, I loved laughing with you and miss you a ton. Another 5 minutes pass and my Dad calls, just to say hello, as he does each day, which was great and then the biggy, my dear sweet hubby called. It was great to talk with him, but really hard to say goodbye. He’s been busy with Ian, who is doing well, but got strep throat once again and was at the emergency room last night til midnight getting meds, but this morning was up at 0630 snuggling with Daddy and content to watch cartoons. I’m glad to hear despite his sickness he is doing quite well. Not lamenting my departure whatsoever. Sam was in awe to talk to Papa on the phone and Tim could tell his English has improved just from Sunday, so that was good to hear! Sam had a huge smile after he talked to Papa. He thinks the phone is pretty cool. Tim is pretty busy with work and trying to keep the house in order as it’s on the market. Tim needs to report to work by June 30th. We have yet to decide whether I’ll stay with the boys and the hound in Dover until the house sells, or if we’ll all leave together regardless of the housing selling. On the one hand I’d love for us all to be together, on the other, Sam and I don’t get home til the end of May and I’d like him to enjoy the place we’ve been showing him as our “dom” for as long as possible. So who knows, I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!! Oh, I"ve become a gammer since Tim left. We just bought a laptop prior to this trip and in addition to pinball and solitaire there are these games that you can try out for a bit prior to purchasing and that's what I do to stay sane at night. Again, I'm so thankful for my IPOD!!
Thanks for reading-

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

May 3rd

Well, my wish came true and it was sunny today, so we took a nice long walk. We walked t the TSUM. In route to the TSUM we always stop at the “Grand Restaurant” because it has 2 lions out front. This is because we read, “Rumble in the Jungle” at least 3 times a day, and we have to stop and visit with the lions and find their eyes, ears, nose, mouth, tongue, and big paws. We went to the grocery store across from the Tsum and bought some bread and a banana just in case we couldn’t find Café Ankara. We then took the underground walkway to the TSUM and found two pair of socks for Sam for 90 tenge, what a steal! I only left him 2 pairs of which I can’t find one. How a sock could get lost in a mere 500 sq. ft. I know not, I just know I can’t find it! We found Café Ankara and while the picture of the hotdog and fries looked yummy, in reality it was not. Sam thought it was fine, but then again what won’t Sam the Bull eat. I’m glad I had the extra bread in my pocket, to nibble on as we took a stroll through the park. At the park we went to the slide, fort, and see-saw section that the boys loved to play on while they were both here.
We then walked home and stopped by the market to see if I could by another nursat card but the women was not at the kiosk. We then hit the grocery store to pick up some bread and fruit for dinner. Starting Friday the weather is supposed to be come more temperate according to This will enhance our walks and hopefully decrease my stir craziness by being able to visiting both the “trash park” and the lake park. But honestly, how many times can we do that in the next 2.5 weeks? I can sense Vitalik is becoming bored as well and I don’t blame him. Still, he's a much happier and more affectionate child than he was a month a go and that keeps me going when the "poor me's " come creeping in.

I’m going crazy. . I personally would not recommend staying the entire time if you a) are adopting an infant under 1 yr, as all they really know is the detsky- dom and they won’t be as broken hearted about you leaving as you will be; b) if you have another child that has to go back without you that is over the age of 1 yr. While I know Ian is very safe, content, and happy with his father and his Grammy Mim.. I am not. I can honestly say this is the best and worst decision I have had to make in my entire life. Honestly, this is really hard. I don’t have a car, I speak enough Russian to NOT look like a loud, bossy, proud stereo-typical American, but I can’t go into a store and truly ask for anything with adult phrases. Though I must say most people have been quite pleased and surprised that I can and do try to communicate in Russian with them and with Sam. I miss feeling clean. I miss standing up in my shower, being able to drink water out of the faucet, cooking in my own kitchen, going to the grocery store and being able to know what everything is and have a variety of foods from which to choose. While I know Sam will add much joy to our family in the months and years to come, right now I really miss my old life prior to him. I miss being with Ian everyday, I miss my home, my husband, my daily routine in little old Dover, DE. While I know staying with him was the right thing to do for him as an individual and for him to transition well into a family setting, I’m angry, not at him, but rather at Kaz’s lengthy adoption process and how it’s forcing our family to be spilt apart during the time we need to be together the most. I completely understand the need to have the 14 day bonding period, but the whole process could easily be done in 1 month vs. 2 months; enabling the child and the family to really start bonding in their native country and living their “new” lives. Ok, enough anger.

On a good note, my friend, Anjanette and her hubby, Ronnie have found their son. Their daughter Reagan is having a tough first day as becoming a big sister is not a wonderful as she anticipated. This is hard on her Mama, I tried to reassure her it will get better each day, but she and I know that torn feeling you is horrendous. I also received a nice call from my father. His daily calls really do make my day just a little bit better. Sam also has been really great this afternoon. Sam was very affectionate today, I received about 10 kisses for no reason at all. That’s a pretty big accomplishment from a month ago today when we first met him and he wouldn’t even really make eye contact. I thought of Ian many times today, but I lost it when I started to run the bath and smelled his oatmeal scented bath wash. I miss him so, so much!! Well, it’s off to lotion Sir Chubby and read some books prior to night-night! Well, Sam the Ham, decided to model the up and coming fashions here in Karaganda, prior to putting on his pj’s and reading books. Those are today's photos. Of course he loved the book, but never likes going to bed at night, doesn’t fight it, just gives you the cold shoulder routine. I’m 99% certain he’ll be in by 0715-0730 tomorrow morning with a smile and the Magna Doodle and once again all will be well. Actually, he just asked for a drink of water and after that I got a kiss, lucky me!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tuesday May 2nd

Posted the pictures early this morning and read a quick email that Tim and Ian had made it safely to Auntie Robin’s house in New Jersey. Ian slept 3 hours in the hotel in Almaty and then Tim and Ian had 4 seats to spread out a bit from Almaty to Frankfurt. Ian slept the entire flight, I assumed Tim slept most of it as well, but when I read his latest email he said his flight from Frankfurt to Newark was horrendous. He had a high fever and chills He thinks he has full blown strep throat. Ian had it before we left and I had extra bottle of anti-biotics I brought along just in case of a relapse while in Kaz. Tim felt really crappy for about 5 days here in Kaz and drank the whole bottle of anti-biotics , so we thought he was in the clear. Guess not. Of course I have the bag of meds here with me in Kaz. I feel horrible knowing he felt like complete and utter crap and here I have the Tylenol that could have reduced his fever in no time. Plus, I just wish I was there to comfort him, be it making sure he got some rest, some soup, was warm enough, whatever. Ok, I miss my husband a lot. Ian’s tonsils looked inflamed as well and complained a bit about his throat hurting but never any other symptoms. Hopefully both Tim and Ian will both see the Dr. on Tuesday. I know Ian is excited to get back to preschool and I would hate to have him bring in an unknown sickness due to traveling. I’m very thankful he and Ian are able to rest up at Auntie Robin’s for a day before heading home to Dover. Poor Auntie Robin and Uncle Erin will be bombarded with numerous questions and tidbits of information as Ian is a jabber-jaw and very inquisitive.

The snow has melted and the sun comes out periodically but it’s still quite cold. Regardless, we will take a walk this afternoon after lunch for some exercise and relief from being cooped up in our cozy but small “home.” Overall Sam is doing great. He still pouts a bit if he doesn’t get what he wants. For example, he went to bed later than usual last night because we went out for a late dinner and had to walk home etc. I gave him a bit of coloring time and then one book before bed. He was not pleased with only having one book and having to go to bed in general and pulled the “I’m not going to look at you or give you any form of emotion” and so instead of getting frustrated or angry I simply kissed him on the forehead and said, “night-night.” The next morning Sam walks into my room with a big smile and I know all is well. He’s still a wise guy in that sometimes he doesn’t want to have “learning” time and plays dumb. This used to drive me nuts, now I simply have him sit in the time-out chair or lose a toy for a while and then we go over our lessons. He loves Leap Pad, but doesn’t want to use it so much as a learning tool vs. a toy. Oh well, too bad. I think we’ll start off slow with 15 minutes of “school” time every 2 hours or so, and work up from there. He needs to see learning and fun can be intertwined. I think when we get home and “re adopt” him we may need to change his birth date by a year. I really don’t think he’s 4.5 yrs old, for a multiple reasons. My biggest concern is that he has a equal chance at succeeding in the US educational system and if that means changing his birth date so that he’s mentally, socially, psychologically and physically ready to begin school, well, so be it.
Sam and I took a 1.5 hour walk and found some small homes vs. standard Soviet apartment housing. These houses were by no means nice, but it did give the city a more residential feeling. We did see an elderly Kazakh man dressed in all of his native clothes which was cool. We then went to the grocery store and Sam picked out some canned vegetables, peas and carrots, in addition to our staple of corn. These veggies are imported from Budapest, the carrots look ok, but the peas are an army green vs. kelly green so I hope he still likes them. They smell way too much like Ian’s baby food of peas and green beans and still to this day that smell just makes me gag. He was also very excited that he was able to pick out the color of the toilet paper. He’s a bit over tired and silly right now. He got a time out for not listening, but after 5 minutes all is well once again. I figure after dinner we’ll do a little leap pad and books and then to bed. I miss home the most at night. I really wish I could give both of my state side boys a big hug and kiss. Let’s hope some sun and warm weather comes east for Wednesday.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Photos from May 1st

May 1st

Ok, only 26 more days to go! I can do it! It’s Labor Day here in Kazakhstan and in most of Asia and Western Europe. I’m not certain if we’ll be able to meet up with the Brewers tonight for dinner as I’m not certain if Mario’s will be open due to the holiday. Bummer! Last night I could not fall asleep. I kept wondering if Tim and Ian departed safely. I did receive an email stating they had a nice day exploring Almaty and that Almaty was much nicer than it seemed a month ago, cleaner air, some green grass and a view of the mountains. Vitalik woke up around 0300 and came into our room as if it was 0730 to snuggle and draw on Magna Doodle. I explained to him in a soft, gentle, voice that Vitalik, the sun, and Mama still needed to sleep. I thought I might get some gruff, but our little man fell fast asleep once again until 0730. I really missed Ian this morning. I couldn’t help but think of him while folding his plaid flannel P.J.’s or while Vitalik was in the bath, it just seemed wrong, not having both of them in their together. I think Vitalik missed him a bit too. For some reason today we’re able to get some French and Italian channels and I feel so much closer to home. It’s very strange, but I can’t stop thinking in Italian while I’m here. I saw an Italian commercial on the TV when we first got here and felt so relieved that I could truly understand what they were trying to convey vs. watching the Russian channels and maybe catching every 50th word or so. Even though it’s again quite chilly and overcast we’ll have to take a walk just to get out of our expansive 500 sq feet abode. Taking a walk each day is not only for Sam’s tummy, but for my mind. Today we went to the Halik Market which contains our grocery store, an ATM and small shops. I had Sam walk around a bit, not knowing at that time if we would be walking to Mario’s. Turns out we are going to meet the Brewer’s around 1845, so I’m certain Bull will need a nice snack prior to eating pizza. The boy could eat his own pizza, but since yesterday morning I’m watching his food intake a bit more and tonight he’ll have to share with Mama. I bought him an adorable winter cap like the one he wore when he was outside at the Detsky Dom. It’s was a whopping $2.40 cents and it will be a nice keepsake for him down the road. He has been playing with his yellow ball all morning. It’s actually Ian’s as we left his purple one at the Detsky Dom. You’d think I gave him a pot of gold. He did take a break to do a bit of Leap Pad, his favorite toy by far. On one of the pages there’s a place where you point on a camera and it’s says, “Everyone say cheese” and I’m not certain why but he chooses to say “I buy cheese.” Right now he cannot make the “H” sound and has a bit of a hard time remembering the names of colors, but can count to 10 like a champ! We met the Brewer Clan at Mario’s Pizza. I’m so glad I bought Sam a new hat today as it’s less than 30 degrees here. We had nice brisk walk to Mario’s and I enjoyed some good conversation with Ronnie and Anjanette, and their daughter Reagan is a cutie-pie. Hopefully they’ll have a great day tomorrow at Malutka and find their son after a week of searching for him. Sam, the little “fresser” that he is had 4 pieces of pizza, a fruit roll-up, and a peanut butter cracker. I know he would have stuffed more in his cute chipmunk cheeks had I let him. We then walked home in the snow, yes, I said snow!!! Yuck!! It’s May, it should be warm and sunny!!! We stopped at the grocery on the way home to get some bread just in case tomorrow is simply too cold to go outside. Today’s pictures include: Sam showing off his new hat, Sam and I at Mario’s pizza, and Sam on a bench on Blvd. Mira as snow flakes are falling. I miss Ian a ton. I miss him saying, “Mama I just want to give you a kissee!!” But I’m thankful he’s almost home! Daddy, give my sweet Ian a kiss and I’ll give a “palute” to Vitalik from you!!. After 6 attempts to post some photos, I quit,I'll try again in the AM.