OK...whew...after the past couple of heavy posts I had a lot of odds and ends to share with pics and information, so I am creating this hodge podge post which veers from our typically well-organized (don't laugh) thematic approach and will offer a little information as well. So here goes nothing:
This is one of the ENORMOUS fish we saw, waiting for someome to come along, take it home and hack it up with an ax!! I am talking about the item on the left, not the Abominable Snowman on the right! HAHA!
Cold?? You wanna talk COLD??? This is ice on the INSIDE of our windows!
What do you do in Siberia when you are bored? If you are Kenny, you work on origami!!
And here is the artist himself, looking quite dashing in his Christmas attire!
We have had many questions about how we proceed from here, so let me fill you in. As it stands now, we do not yet have a court date. We are awaiting one document from the states, and it should arrive January 30th. We may not be able to go to court until then. Additionally, we are waiting for documents to be sent from here to Astana and back before we can go to court. We are in the midst of holiday season, and though they do not recognize Christmas on December 25th, the New Year is their big holiday, followed by Russian Orthodoz Christmas on January 7th. Basically, we have no idea when we might complete court. To top it off, we just learned that the judge here who handles adoption cases is changing positions and a new judge will be taking over as of January 1st. This may effect our time frame as well, as a new judge might need a bit of time to get up to speed.
Once we go to court, there is a 15 day post-court waiting period, then the girls' documents can be prepared which will take a couple of weeks. Once they are in our hands, we can finally leave Petropavlovsk and head to Almaty where we will be for a couple of days. The girls need mandatory medical exams for our appointment at the US Embassy. Then we can fly home which will take a couple of days and involves a very early morning flight from Almaty (2:20 AM or 4:00 AM, we can't remember which at the moment), and a 7 hour layover in Frankfurt.
Our plans have changed from our original version. I will remain here with the boys and Dominick will return for 2-3 weeks to handle work issues, get the girls application for insurance handled (we only have 30 days from the court date here or they will be declined), get paperwork for the Embassy appointment gathered and get a couple of other documents notarized and apostilled, and get some clothes for the girls (thanks to a couple of friends whose help I have enlisted! Thanks Jane and Jill! At least he won't be bringing back Carhartt's or something similar! HAHAHA!). Our grand total time left is....::::drum roll:::: a minimum of 5 weeks and a maximum of 8 weeks.
Wow...that sounds like a very, very long time. Well worth it, but a looooonnnggg time, especially knowing it will get even COLDER here in January (How in the world that is even possible, I don't know!). We will be nursing it along for schoolwork for Kenny and Josh, Matt has enough for the time frame and we will come up with stuff for the other two somehow.
Many have asked for our story to be posted, a brief synopsis...and photos. We will be doing so after court. Don't worry, you'll get the whole scoop.
We are doing well, but man do we miss our friends!! Other than the cold, we are fine in our apartment and are not missing "place" as much as people. I am personally missing English language books and magazines, REAL Diet Coke, hugs from women I hold dear, and church services. Dominick misses his bed the most, sunlight, familiar smells and drinking out of something other than a shot glass...oh yea, and a cheese grater. Matthew misses Legos, Kenny misses his friends Willy and Wesley, and his blankie which we didn't have enough room to pack as it is much thicker than Josh's, and Joshie misses his buddy Zack a lot.
Things we like are: These shortbread sort of cookies from Dominick's store that have chocolate layered on the bottom. we have now nicknamed "our" stores "Walmart" (Dominick's with blue letters) and "Target" (Mine with a read front). We love all the new sights and sounds we are experiencing every day, we actually are getting used to the odd pizza crust here that is more tortilal like than crust like. We enjoy hearing the church bells ringing in the cathedral behind us. We love Irina and Alexander who are so warm and doing such a great job for us here. I love little markets we can walk to in 2 minutes, Dominick is enjoying his new "friends" who grin when they see him at the Kaz Walmart...all these Russian ladies who think he is so funny. The cookie lady in particular must love to see him coming and have no clue it is cookies for 7 or 8 of us with Irina and the girls visiting, and not just him!
We love the simplicity of life here, the stripped down version of our own lives which is more clutter free...and yes, at times more difficult. I love my plastic orange cups we bought to supplement our meager supply here...and my beloved butter knife that Joceleny and Sven surprised us with when they found a set of two and shared one with us. I LOVE steam heat, the apartment is so cozy inside!
The one thing I miss more than anything though is feeling like a "grown up". I have always told everyone I have ever spoken with that the best way to get through this experience is to let go of any illusion of control and let yourself be the toddler you need to be so your "handlers" can do their job well and not have to fight you every step of the way. You do your research, you trust the team whose hands you are in, and get out of the way. It is harder than it sounds. You can't go anywhere at will, you can't communicate with anyone, you can't read ANYTHING...not signs, food labels, newspapers. You can't drive, you can't order in a restaurant easily, you can't find things to do on your own. You need help with literally every single thing you do. 8-12 weeks is a loooonnnggg time to purposely infantalize yourself.
After our court date, we will visit with the girls every other day rather than every day. Trying to think of things to do at our apartment with the limited resources and time we have is going to be a bit of a chore when you are not very creative as I am not! But it is best to visit here, it is a more normal homelike existence and the girls visibly relax when they are here. Anyone have any ideas, feel free to post or email...I can only think of a few things and also could use ideas to keep the boys from becoming potato heads!!
That's it I guess, there's your hodge podge. I hope that answers a few questions that I have been bombarded with in emails.