Monday, May 12, 2008

Life at Our Home Away From Home

We settled into a routine fairly quickly here after only a few days of baby house visitation. We are adopting from Room 5 in Karaganda, so the visitation times might be different if you are adopting from different cities in Kazakhstan, or even from different rooms (ages) within the same baby house as us. On most days, our visiting hours are from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, and then from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. On some days, such as Sundays or holidays, we'll only have the one morning visit.

We normally wake up between 7:00 or 7:30 AM. I will make breakfast while Laura finishes her secret female morning ritual. We normally have a simple but large breakfast consisting of muesli cereal, fresh bread with cold cuts of salami and cheese, yogurt, coffee (Bob) and tea (Laura), and fruit juice. Ocassionally, I like to boil a few eggs as well. We like this breakfast because it is easy to prepare, it is filling, and all the items are readily available in the grocery stores here. It's also easy to clean up afterwards.

After breakfast, we usually spend a few minutes washing dishes and tidying up the apartment. Laura will frequently run a load of clothes, since we are fortunate enough to have a washing machine in our apartment. Laura will also re-pack the diaper bag for the day's visit. I will sometimes check email via dial-up, and then pack the laptop bag, including our house shoes, a water bottle, and Laura's current book. About every other day, I have to make the trek out to the "dumpster" (more accurately, the expedient community incinerator) to take out the trash.

Our driver Sasha is normally waiting for us around 9:30 AM. Oxana, our fabulous lead interpreter and deputy coordinator, lives in the apartment above us, so we all pile into Sasha's car for the short trip to the baby house. After arriving, we change into our house shoes. Laura normally races ahead of me up to Room 5, since I'm burdened with shoes that actually lace. Since Vic has usually just awaken, we spend a few minutes cuddling and smiling at him while we change him. We then feed him the baby house-provided meal, typically a rice porridge of some sort with some juice made from reconstituted dried fruit.

After the meal, we'll then spend a few minutes playing indoors with him to let the meal settle and to practice some physical development exercises (crawling, playing with toys, assisted walking, etc). We'll then carefully bundle him to the baby house approved level of (over-)stuffiness, and take him outside for 30-45 minutes of outside play.

For lunch, there are many choices. However, we have found the best combination of food quality, price, variety, and (key!) free wireless net access to be the Karaganda Cafe, located directly across from the City Mall, a popular and impossible-to-miss shopping center. We'll spend our two hours break having lunch, catching up on email, or chatting with other families that may join us. Our most excellent interpreter Julia will often join us for lunch as well. Sometimes, we'll cross the street to pick up a few items at the Ramstore, a large grocery store located inside of the City Mall.

At about 1:45 PM, we will meet Sasha, who will drive us back to the baby house for our afternoon visit. This visit is normally identical to the morning visit, as Vic will just be waking up from his nap. The afternoon meal is a bit different -- some type of porridge with bits of meat, and sometimes crusts of bread as well. We try to spend most of this visit outdoors with him as well, if only for the fresh air.

Just before 4:00 PM, everyone is beginning to feel tired. We say goodbye to Vic for the evening, and then put him down in his crib before leaving for the day. Sometimes, we'll need an afternoon grocery store trip before going home, but we've gotten better about getting our groceries at lunch. I've also found that the Nursat cards (prepaid dial-up net access) are available at a small shopping center direcly across from the baby house.

After Sasha drives us home, we then begin our evening routine. My goal for this trip was to spend the available free time working towards a required professional development course that I have been putting off for years. So, Laura will make dinner while I make notes and study guides using the CD-ROM course materials that I brought with us. After dinner, we will settle down on the couch, with myself working on my coursework, and Laura either reading a book or watching a show on our portable DVD player.

We normally start getting ready for bed around 10:00 PM, although it is sometimes 11:00 PM or so before we finally go lights-out. We'll check email or I'll try to finish "one last study guide" before bedtime.

The routine varies some on days that we only have the one morning visit. I think we've had four such days so far. We will spend the extra time at the Karaganda cafe, or spending time with the other families here. If our driver is not available, then we'll just take a city bus from the mall area back to our apartment.

If there are any questions that parents-in-waiting have about Karaganda or the Kazakhstan trip in general, or if there are any topics you would like for me to write about specifically, please let me know by commenting below. We really do look forward to reading all the feedback that readers provide.


Tracy said...

Hello.. sounds like things are going great for you all. I am happy to hear there are some free internet cafes. Seems like most are very exspensive. Vic sounds wonderful. Congratulations... I will keep reading as long as you keep posting!!!

Unknown said...

When Vic is older, he'll really love to read this story and see the photos you've taken at his 'first' home. It'll make a nice book for him to have always, along with all the comments from his extended family and the other photos you've probably taken. He is already a loved little boy.
Vic's big brother, Jack, is anxious for him to come home--and me, too!
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Much love,