Monday, January 04, 2010

A Dominick-less Visit


We got news that Dominick arrived home safe and sound, and we offer a big thanks to our friends for driving all the way to Grand Junction to pick him up.

This afternoon the girls visited for a couple of hours. It is hard to think of things to do with them with the limited resources we have here and the inability to go out too much. We are thinking ahead though, and are planning and are thinking of bowling one day, a treasure hunt one day, some alphabet lessons one day, making playdough one day...and...umm......probably another visit to the ever-present Pizza House again sometime! Haha! I am going through withdrawals, it has been a few days since we were there :-) Not really, I could go without it for good at this stage but am grateful to have it around.

It is difficult too because this is not "real life", it is not authentic, and we are all feeling as if we are in a holding pattern. I hesitate to do too much in terms of more costly activities outside the apartment or RBS as I don't want them to get into the habit of thinking we are going to be able to continue that aside from this trip. It will be setting them up for unrealistic expectations once we get back home, just as buying them something every time we go out would do. So we are trying to be low key, and while we are going to start introducing some language work soon, I don't want to make this all about "school" as we are tentatively getting to know one another. There is plenty of time for that, and both seem hesitant to use their English while we still have Irina around, it is easy for all of us to fall back on her as a crutch. It is when we no longer have access to her as we go about our day that it will be sink or swim and they will want to use the limited English they have acquired. We do know that they both know the alphabet, or at least most of it, and some colors and the same phrases we know in Russian...please...thank you...hello...good bye.

Today's visit was fun. We went to Dominick's Walmart in the morning and bought 4 balloons. When the girls came, we took our extra long phone cord we brought (See? I was thinking...dial up...comfort...small apartment...long cord...internet in bed when I can't sleep!) and used it to create a pretend volleyball net, then we played balloon volleyball! Although Joshie had walked away while I had the camera in my hand, he too was in there playing and having a good time. Irina and I played for awhile too.

It was boys against girls most of the time, and I must say the girls came out the winner far more than the boys did! The boys were concentrating more on making cool "falls" as they plunged to the ground dramatically.

Olesya LOVES LOVES LOVES my camera and is carefully using it as I showed her how, making certain the strap is around her neck. It will be a lot of fun to teach her how to use photo shop...and Jill...our little phrase for scrapping will now have to include Olesya I think! Hahaha! This is a picture she took of me.

I had fun with the camera too, as I have found I LOVE the lighting that comes in our kitchen window in is soft and I like the look of it. We also played with another Klutz kit we brought along with pipecleaners and it provided the opportunity to make some great creations as well as have fun just goofing around.

Kenny and Matt walked by as I was working with this photo of Josh and both exclaimed "Mom, that is the best picture of Josh! You gotta put it on the blog!" here it is :-)
Just to satisfy the boys!

Olesya creating a heart looking glass!

The beginnings of Kenny's tiger.

Superhero Mask!

Kenny and Olesya have a lot in common...

Angela was busy at work with her back to us, then showed us her creation...I think she is missing Dominick and I love her English here!
Tonight we are having our new creation of rice flavored with chicken seasoning from rmaen noodles mixed with a package of the Tyson chicken we brought with us. The boys love it! It is the last package we have :-( but I can cook up chircken and make more. We have relatively few familiar veggies available here but have found canned corn, peas, beans. The salads here are generally some form of shredded carrots, onions and livers...yes, you read that right...livers. There are others but I'll be darned if I can figure out what is in some of them and they look downright dangerous!

We have been cooking hamburger purchased in chubs at the Iceburg and chicken breasts at the Corona as that is factory packaged, but fairly expensive. Although I had my tummy issues which seem to have resolved, it couldn't have been the meat as everyone else also ate it and was just fine. We just can't quite bring ourselves to trust the meat counter meat where slabs Beef? Sheep? are hacked away at and left out in the open uncovered and unrefrigerated. But we figured the factory packaged stuff was safer...or at least what we don't see won't kill us, right? Hahaha!

We are supplementing it with ramen noodle meals, salami and cheese, and pasta. What we can NOT find here is real tomato sauce like we are used to. It all seems to be more like tomato paste and very, very strong and hard to dilute right for spaghetti sauce. We have a few packets of tuna left which I am the only one who will eat it, and the teriyaki beef jerkey is loooonggg gone. The breads here are very good and there is a nice variety. Today, the woman handed me a loaf and no plastic bag, just a big round loaf of bread and I grinned and didn't think anything of it, but realized a few minutes later that in the states I would have cringed and probably thrown it out! How silly!

I have decided that Dominick is right, the gals at his store ARE nicer and his bread lady was happy to see us today. I think we confused all of them having Yannik along with us and one asked us (I think) if he was ours or maybe if we were adopting him. But then Yannik spoke in English and she laughed. Wait till we really throw them all for a loop coming in with the girls! Hahaha! It will be just like Montrose where many people who don't know us can never quite figure out which kids are ours and which ones aren't. Most often I tend to get mistaken for Joshie's best friend's mom, as he and I resemble each other a little bit...well...well actually not all that much but he IS caucasian! His mom is WAY beautiful and she makes very pretty children :-) I just adopt them! Hahahaha!!

I am also out of Coke Light, and can't find any more. Maybe THAT is why I am feeling ever more tired than usual today, no caffeine for the past 24 hours! Eeegads!!! What will I do???
The kids are hard at work on homework, and I am so thankful for their terrific attitudes. Never a single complaint this entire trip, never dragging their feet about getting in to get schoolwork done, not a word about what they don't have here or what they are missing back home. I know they miss their friends and the normalcy of our life, but they sure have kept their sunny dispositions up! Tomorrow they will have a treat and Sven has promised to take them to the ice slides if it is warm enough...the BIG ones down near the Pizza House that look almost castle-like. It is so nice of Sven to offer and the boys will have a blast if they all end up going.

It is one thing I have thought about here, that it is one thing to watch one kiddo as we have with Yannik for their visitations and enjoyed having him. It is quite another to take on 3 extra kids...or 5!! (And even more so in their tiny apartment here!) Not everyone has that kind of stamina! I think we might not find ourselves having a date night for another 10 years! HAHAHA!

So there is the daily report. Tomorrow is likely to be a slow news day here in Petropavlovsk. We will crack down on school work, get a lot of reading done, and hopefully some SLEEPING done. Without Coke Light, I might not make it through tomorrow but I'll give 'er my best shot!


Joyce said...

Hi Cindy
thanks for updating - I love reading the way you write.
I wondered if you could make a game of naming things in the apartment - girls write what they would call it, and the boys write their version and they teach each other. Im not sure if that would work if you have different alphabets which I think someone said was the case.
I must admit though, it would be tricky to think of stuff to do given the temps as well.

Wishing you all the best as you get thru this stint of single parenting.
Love to the boys and the girls.

Joyce said...

I forgot the add, I totally love that first photo of the kids with a sign for Dominick - I can hear that infectious laughter

Anonymous said...

Great shots of you and Josh...another budding photographer you have there...glad to hear Dom made it back safely. I will pray for a Coke Light shipment to No Kaz for you... :-) Vegas

Dee said...

You can teach the girls to play Simon Says, and I bet they already know musical chairs and Drop the Handkerchief. Do you have a deck of cards? If so, they can play card games like "I Doubt It" - email me and I will tell you how; it's simple and fun.

Go ahead and start teaching the girls the English for parts of the body. Also go over phrases like "I want" and "May I have" and "Who, what where when why?" Maybe designate half their visit as English learning and half as games. Combine them and make learning a game! My kids enjoyed learning the names of body parts, although "elbow" flummoxed them. You will also need to teach them the "th" sound - practice these, those, them, etc.

Also, you need to teach them some emotion words [happy, sad, scared, excited] because they will be feeling emotional when the translator is gone. You can make your own flashcards and have Irina write the words in Russian.

Drink tea instead of Diet Coke.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures! How about pictionary? Irina could write 30 + words in Russian and English, explain the rules, divide the girls, add the boys and draw.
Best wishes for you all,
Teresa F.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures, Cindy, thanks. Now you have more to illustrate the book you are going to write about the LaJoy Team. We'll try to give Dom some loving care while he is here. Wish I could send you Coke Light. Instead I'll send psychic energy. You look radiant in the picture Oleysa took of you. Happiness trumps fatigue every time.


Anonymous said...

OMG....all of your photos are beautiful!
I love, love that photo of you. The kindness shows in that closeup of your face. It is a priceless portrait! Please tell O that she captured your spirit and it's a gorgeous keepsake!

Andrea said...

How about cooking or baking something? Can you take the girls to the store and have them help you find the ingredients?

Kathy W said...

Hi Cindy,

Your being in this "holding pattern" has reminded me strongly of my adoption of my son in Kaz. He was 1 then, and lived with us in our hotel during the waiting period. I told folks when I got back, it was very liberating, having no responsibilities other than bonding with and having a great time with your child. I like the ideas others threw out, particularly those that make starting the language learning fun. I hope you all can really ENJOY this period!

Kathy W

Carol said...

Hi Cindy,

LOVE the photos... the first one of your five grinning kids is priceless. Matthew and Kenny are right... that IS an awesome pic of Josh... it took my breath away. Actually, I love ALL the photos. I think you should have Olesya take more photos of you for the blog... it's really nice to be seeing more of you!

Also really enjoying your account of daily life there... I'm often shaking my head and cracking up as I read... yup, that is the Kaz we know and love!

You're doing a great job of keeping the kids entertained with limited resources and in a way that forces them to think and be creative... this is something you've always done well, even while at home in Montrose. I agree with the suggestion of pictionary, if you can figure out how to account for the language difference. I've never seen that game played without tons and tons of laughter.

Gee, I hope you find some diet Coke soon... caffeine withdrawals are no fun. Stay warm!

Anna said...

hi, found your blog from Angela. I havent read back far enough to know your whole adoption story but she said the Hague laws threw a curve ball at you too. I have also met another woman off Ravelry (knitting community) that is adopting her second child and actually lives in Almaty. She has been such an encouragement to me over this past year but I only know her via internet. I could put you in touch with her if you would like?
I cant wait to have more time to read up on "your adventure". God Bless. Under His Wings, Anna

Cathy Hartt said...

Cindy - I will try to stop by and see hi to Dominick when I am at MTJ on Weds!

Anonymous said...

Cindy- I spent three months in Kathmandu waiting to bring my little girl home but at least it was rather tropical and we could walk around every day. I also lived in a very nice hotel.

I took loads of pictures every day. I had catagories like; local people, working people, people carrying heavy ojects, people using bikes and motorcycles to carry way too much, children, food, animals, plants and birds, archetictural(sp?) detail on buildings, etc.

I also kept a scrap book of odds and ends and newspaper articles. Maybe you could start a scrap book for each child and let them take some pictures just for their own. You could show them how to put together themes. Maybe the girls would like to take lots of photos of friends, teachers, ....

Anonymous said...


bxlo j = ew 26

Lori said...

I know everyone said your pictures are fabulous, and they ARE! But my favorite part is the sheer joy and glee it seems they were all experiencing together! I love the grins in the first picture--so jubilant!

Carrie DeLille said...

Those smiles-they must ALL be LaJoys!!

Kelly and Sne said...

Great update - it seems like you are all doing well even without Dominick. I need to take lessons on how to entertain children with few resources. Balloon volleyball - what a good idea!

In Semey grocery stores, we found inexpensive (Russian-made) jarred pureed vegetable sauces that included tomatoes that we warmed up and put over pasta. One version was with eggplant (seriously you can't tell it has eggplant in it as it is pureed) and called "eekra" (essentially vegetable caviar). Another version contained pumpkin with the tomatoes and veggies. They taste closer to our jarred pasta sauces and were really good. You can ask Irina if she knows of it or look in the canned/jarred vegetable/sauce area in the store. You can also cook up beans for soups/pastas and an inexpensive "safe" protein source. I remember seeing a lot of dried beans in the grocery. Finally, you should try the frozen pelmeni (potato and meat dumplings). They were inexpensive, very filling and really good with butter and a little cheese or sour cream on top (or you can get a brothy soup mix and float the dumplings in it).

P.S. Great photos of all the kids - so nice to see such big smiles on the girls' faces. And they were right - what a great photo of Josh.

Kathy B. said...

Cindy, there was a grocery store down Constitution that had the best rotiserie chickens of anywhere. They were huge and so good. It was one of the nicer grocery stores. It was not too far from the pizza place. There was so new construction in that direction back in spring 2007. I wish I could think of it. Kathy

Maureen said...

Very nice pictures! I agree with the boys that you took a really nice picture of Josh! And I really like Angela's pipcleaner message. :-)

I think you have good ideas of how to make visits fun and entertaining. You are right that you want to be careful setting the girls expectations though.

Best wishes!