February 23rd - Day 13: Feeding Emil for the first time

Today we had another special treat during our visit with Emil.  We got to feed him his breakfast!  When we arrived at the baby house, they brought everything up to the music room.  I got to hold Emil and feed him … sounds like such a common, silly thing but it meant so much to us … we are so looking forward to being able to care for him and take care of his every need ourselves!  We had heard about yet were still surprised to see the enormous amount of food he eats.  They had a huge bowl of cereal (cream of wheat) mixed with fruit puree and a cup of tea with a cookie soaking in it.  He was really good about eating out of the spoon – a teaspoon, not a baby spoon – and I could hardly keep up with him.  After he finished off the bowl, his caregiver scooped the soaked cookie into his bowl and mashed it up with the spoon.  Then I fed it to him – he loved it!  Then the caregiver held a towel under his chin and feed him the rest of the tea out of the cup!  Yes, tea!  (I’m realizing that I need to find out what kind; I’m assuming it is herbal tea and not black tea.)  Anyway, it was such a treat to feed him and he did so well.  I was the one who made the biggest mess!  Then, about an hour later at 11, the caregiver came back with a bottle of juice for him.  It smelled like peach or apricot and came in a glass bottle (a little like the old Coke bottles, but narrower) with a long nipple.  Dave held Emil while he drank and he (Emil) quaffed it right down!  It was so cute to watch them together like that!

Between visits today, I did take the long walk down to the Old Cathedral so I could take pictures of what we drove by on our tour yesterday.  Since I had written notes to myself (military hospital - teal building on the left, Dept. of Education - brown and red stucco building on the right) I remembered what most of the buildings were.  By the time I reached the library, I was freezing!  About two blocks from the apartment, I remembered that I had forgotten to put on long underwear and was too lazy to go back and change.  I thought I would duck inside the library to get warm.  So, I walked through the two sets of doors (to keep the cold air out) into the foyer.  The doorman was very kind and kept trying to talk to me.  I had forgotten my little dictionary (as well as my long underwear) so I made the motion that I was cold.  I also tried to say - by pointing to my eyes, pretending I was opening a book with my hands, and pointing around in general - that I thought I might just look around.  Well, that sent him on a mission to find someone in the building who could speak English!  He took me everywhere until we finally found a woman named Marina .  I explained to her that I had come in because I was cold and that, since my mother had been a librarian, I thought it would be interesting to see what their library was like.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had this feeling, but when she translated for everyone else what I had said, I had the suspicion that something was lost in the translation. They just looked at me with no expression.  (Kind of a creepy moment.)  I added that I thought that it would be interesting to see the children reading (I had seen several mingling about) and I guess that was a good idea because then everyone seemed to lighten up and she then led me on a tour of the whole building.  I saw 5 and 6 year olds playing checkers in the children’s section, 9 year olds copying notes from a book in another classroom, senior high students studying in yet another room.  I was shown the arts department where they had a little room with benches, a TV, and a VCR for educational movies, two record players with a large selection of LP’s, and posters of flora and fauna.  They proudly showed me a computer room with a couple of very nice computers and a fairly large TV; they also showed me a nice collection of books published in the U.S.   Finally, Marina introduced me to the woman in charge of the theater arts.  I got to see the room where they do their puppet shows and the collection of puppets the lady had made by hand.  I was also very impressed with the way she converted a cardboard box into a beautiful stage for the puppets.  As we toured the building, I kept trying to get clarity from Marina as to whether it was a library or a school; Masha later explained that it’s a children’s library.  One woman I met was an older babushka-type lady … short, stout and cute and with quite good English.  She had apparently taught English for 34 years.  While I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of any of the children, I was able to get pictures of some of the women I met and the doorman insisted on getting a picture with me in front of the building.  They were so nice to me.  I kept saying “spa CEE ba” (thank you) a thousand times over.  While I entered the building with the intention of getting warm, I came out with a lot more … the warmth of a great experience with some beautiful Kazakh people.  So much of what we’re doing here is overseen (thankfully) by people who know what they’re doing, know who to talk to and when, and have experience with adoption proceedings in Kazakhstan.  We have a driver who takes us around and a translator to help us communicate, whenever we feel it’s necessary.  We’re grateful for their company, expertise, guidance, and support.  Yet, personally, I love the kind of travel experience I had today, where I’m on my own, with no plan and no map, so-to-speak, and the adventure just takes on a life of its own!  It was just great!  Just what I needed!  I left the library and walked the rest of the way down the street to the Old Cathedral where Dave and Igor picked me up on the way to see Emil this afternoon.

This afternoon, we found out that we're now able to go home (from Almaty) on the 15th.  So, first we were going home on the 12th, then the 17th, and now on the 15th.  We've decided to wait a few days before we change our tickets again in case there are any other changes!  We'll keep you posted!

I'm starting to feel like I really like this place ... the slow pace even though it’s a city, the simple, unhurried lifestyle, getting by with basic needs (I don’t even NEED hot water, really).  I feel like I really want to soak up the essence of the city so that I pass it on to Emil.

Dave, on the other hand, is feeling a little under the weather.  He’s been fighting something for days and now it seems he might have some intestinal bug.  We’re hoping it’s nothing and that a good night’s sleep will make him feel better by morning. 


            Caregiver watching Mommy feed Emil                                                        Open wide!


            The best part ... cookie soaked in tea!                                                            The rest of the tea


                        Daddy feeding his son                                                                            Tickle time!


                                Cute little birdie                                                                        Ladies at the library