Thursday, September 30, 2004

Toto, We're Not in Kansas Any More!

Greetings from Taldy-Korgan, Kazakhstan!  We are still pinching ourselves to make sure we're not dreaming.  Our flight from Charlotte to Frankfurt was uneventful.  After a 5 hour layover (where we napped intermittently in the Lufthansa Business Lounge, thanks to David's gold preferred status  on US Airways) we boarded a very nice Lufthansa flight to Almaty.  6 hours later, we were in Kazakhstan!  And our luggage ALL made it intact!  Amazing.  We were met by our faciliator, Gulnara, and driver, Emil, and taken to the Beijing Hotel at around midnight.

We spent a short night there, ate breakfast, and were met by Emil for a meeting at the Sisters' Office.  After some paper shuffling and discussions, we stopped by the Ramstore (translation: Super Wal-Mart) for some water and provisions for our 3 hour drive to Taldy-Korgan.  For a minute I thought I had been transformed to West Texas, the landscape was so similar.  Lots of craggy hills and rolling pastureland.  Several times we had to go around a large herd of sheep or cattle, being herded by men on horses.  Suddenly we heard a discouraging word from the right rear tire ... it was flatter than the proverbial pancake.  Gulnara was astonished, "My first time this is happening!" but David is handy with a jack and had that sucker off and replaced in seconds flat (no pun intended).  Off we went ... after running over a large rock that buckled the floor of the car!

So here we are in Taldy Korgan, how do you describe it?  It is named for the large pointy trees that are everywhere -- David thinks they're birches (what, a Masters' degree in forestry and you can't identify some Kazakh trees??)

We met our Melanie Karina for a short 30 minutes.  She was not happy to see us at all ... some tears ... but we expected that.  She is beautiful and tiny, and has  dark eyes that look into your soul.  After a very brief visit we came back to the apartment, and went into a drug-induced coma for 12 hours.  We feel refreshed and energetic, and had another visit with her this morning.  She was more receptive to us this time, and took juice from us, wore her new slippers that we brough and sat contentedly on my lap.  She is precious ... I was able to get a lot of kisses in that were long overdue. 

Our cook just left and we are smelling a delicious lunch waiting for us in the other room, so I'll sign off for now ... thanks for everyone's prayers and thoughts for a safe journey.  It couldn't have gone smoother.  Boy, do we feel like we're a loooong way from home though!

P.S....David says Hey!

Monday, September 27, 2004

We're ... Off to see the Wizard ...

As Hurricane Jeanne creeps up the Eastern seaboard towards Charlotte, I can only hope that the eyewall will pass directly over us at the exact time that our plane departs.  Of course it's only a tropical depression (or maybe just in a blue funk by now) but they are calling for gusty winds, tornadoes and rain.  <sigh>  What next?  I'm trying to be optimistic.  Other than illnesses and threatening weather, things have been very smooth.  We are all packed, clothes laid out, documents loaded, electronics charged up.  And I think all of our bags fall far below the dreaded 70 lb. weight limit.   I don't guess there's anything else to report, other than see ya in Almaty, or perhaps Frankfurt.  I hear their internet cafe is da bomb!  (Oops, no jokes about bombs please ...)

Saturday, September 25, 2004

By request

Nothing crucial to post today.  I kept getting worse and worse ... the pain spread to my ear (got a nasty wake up call at 4:30 a.m. ... no wonder babies scream in pain when they have earaches!)  800 mg. of Ibuprofen made it a little better, so I could go back to sleep.  David took Christian to his baseball game, and I called the doctor to see if they could see me on a Saturday.  Luckily, they could!!  Turns out it's not strep after all, just a nasty virus ... so she gave me a big humongous shot in my, <ahem> "hip" (and a Snoopy band-aid too!) and oral steroids.  I should be good to go now!  Golly, I hope they don't check for performance-enhancing drugs in adoption!  They might be a little suspicious when I start growing a beard and lifting 500 lb. weights though.   I did some more shopping (man it's fun to spend money like it's water ... I expect that this will all come back to bite us in the <ahem> "hip", eventually.

Anne has packed two entire duffel bags, each only weighing around 40 pounds!  Amazing.  I haven't even looked at what clothes to take yet; guess that will be tomorrow's chore. 

Tonight I helped Christian make a clay model of a mud dauber wasp for his insect project, and typed up his report.  He was pleased as punch!  I think we did an awesome job!


Thursday, September 23, 2004

What's happening!?

This morning I woke up with an enormous swollen gland and fever; the strep demon seems to have paid a visit.  Now, I haven't been sick in months and months ... I think I'm one of the healthiest people on the planet.  So why NOW?  Of all times ... <grumble>  I've been to my doctor this morning and begged her for a shot of good old penicillin, but she gently (okay not so gently) persuaded me to go the oral antibiotic route.  So, I'll be slinking around feeling like crap for another day.  Luckily all seems to be in order as far as gathering stuff for the trip, so I can lie on my bed of pain and not worry about it.

David's parents arrived yesterday with no problem.   I'm still in serious denial that we're actually leaving in 4 days.  I was at the airport meeting DR & Anne and walked past the international check-in counter and thought, "Jeez, that's where we'll be on Monday!"  <shiver>

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Packing and other Mundane Things

When we last met, our heroine was maniacally driving from point A to point B, meeting Fed Ex, sending off visa applications, while driving the children  to baseball games, all while talking on her cell phone, applying makeup and drinking a Diet Pepsi, yelling at the kids and trying to keep the dog off the dashboard.  Can you say "multitasking"?

On today's episode we will see David booking plane tickets for his parents, Mississippi to Charlotte; for my mom from Louisiana to Kazakhstan; and for us, Charlotte to Kazakhstan.  And back.  We will go along with our intrepid pair as they shop for last-minute "can't live without but weigh less than 12 ounces" items, like instant oatmeal, grits ("what is a grit?") coffee filters, ramen noodles and other various & sundry things.  Panic has not yet set in, although the words "eight days to travel" will strike fear in the hearts of most men (and women).  Life seems to go on as usual, except for the rising blood pressure and the sound of the ever-louder ticking clock. 

Christian seems to be sensing our impending travel the most, with lots of tears and temper tantrums.  He remembers our being gone the last time, while Lisa seems blessedly oblivious.  I have been preparing little paper sacks with little gifts for every day we are gone, for both of them to open each morning.   This really helped Chistian pass the days last time, and he is really looking forward to that.  But my heart is breaking when I think about him without us, and wondering if we're doing the right thing.  Hoping that he won't be scarred for life ...

I was able to get several tubes of Bactroban ointment for the babyhouses, after a traveling family sent out a plea.  They are having a "rash" of staph infections (no pun intended) and need it desperately.  My family doc. is very accommodating, and the pharmacy gave it to us at cost when I told them what we were doing with it. 

David's parents will fly in on Wednesday, and I get to go through the arduous process of handing over my life to Anne.  No easy task.  There will be birthday parties to go to, scouts to attend, baseball games & practices, tutoring ... ack.   I can never fully express to her how much we appreciate what they are doing: giving up their own lives for a monthto take over ours.  They are truly giants in my book ... it's a debt we will never be able to repay.

Other than that ... not much is going on!  Ho hum ... life is so boring sometimes ... <yawn!>

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Update on the Chaos

Well, okay, not complete chaos, just moderate.  We received a 23 page missive from WPA with our departure checklist.  Visas, plane reservations, you name it.  Yesterday I zipped downtown to meet David to get passport pictures taken (for the visas).  Ran home to fill out the forms, write a cover letter, get a money order from the bank.  Then ran to Fed-Ex to send everything off.  Realized I forgot to enclose a document.  Back towards home ... meanwhile the clock is ticking ... have to be back for the last pickup at 5 p.m.  Get caught in a detour that takes me waaay out of my way.  I'm squeezing the steering wheel in agony.  Rush into the house.  Get the forgotten document.  Back to Fed-Ex ... make it!  (God I hope it's filled out right!!)  Back home to get Christian to get ready for 6 p.m. baseball game.  Collect equipment for game, snacks for game, grab his uniform out of the dryer (is it dry yet??)  Lisa insists on bringing the dog to the game; I have no energy to argue.  I'll give you three guesses who ended up taking care of the dog at the game.  Right.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ... lots of phone calls between Charlotte and Baton Rouge (and remember there's a hurricane bearing down on B.R.) with my mom trying to figure out her itinerary (she's meeting us in Almaty for the last week of the trip) ... phone calls to England to see if she can crash with friends there before flying to Almaty.  Nope, they'll be in Mexico.  Poor Mom has to fly straight through.  Ugh.  David pulling his hair out with the airlines ... it's an 'If this, then that' or 'If not this, then that' situation.  Should he stay in Kaz. the whole time or come home after court?  Sheesh.   I am comatose by 9 p.m.  Luckily I deal with stress by sleeping. 

Today ... I put our photo albums together.  The judges and caregivers in Kaz. like to see pictures of where the child will be living.  So I and my memory stick will be spending the day at CVS Pharmacy in their photo department.  Now why did I leave this chore to the very last minute???

Tuesday, September 14, 2004



I had just dropped all the kids at the bus at 7:15 this morning, and walked into the kitchen to a ringing phone.  Now, not many people call me at that hour, and when I saw it was Comanche, Texas calling (where our coordinator lives) I knew that our day had finally arrived.  We are to be in Almaty on September 28 (two weeks from today .. golly!) and will drive to Taldy-Korgan in the 29th to meet our Melanie.   We will return home to the US on October 30, just in time for Halloween!  Now everything kicks into overdrive ... passports sent off for visas, plane tickets to get.  PHEW.  This has been a marathon of emotions.  I'm delirious that it is over.  Thank you all for your support (especially you Brenda!!)  Stay tuned, news at 11.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Technical help

Someone pointed out to me that it isn't obvious that you can read older entries to this website.  Click on "View Older Entries" and you should be able to scroll through all the entries made from the beginning.  Golly, wouldn't want anyone to miss anything! Heaven forbid.

My weekend away was nice and relaxing.  I slept, I read, I drank a little.  (Honest!)  Dare I hope for some news this week? 

Friday, September 10, 2004


Forgot to mention that Lisa's surgery went well.  She tolerated it fine.  We were home by 9 in the morning, and she is now cyst-free! 

Thursday, September 9, 2004

FINALLY a glimmer of hope!

Today we got the great news that our Letter of Invitation (the official invitation from the Kazakh government to travel) is in Atlanta, with the agency director.  Travel dates will follow in 2-3 business days.  I suppose this means we may hear something on Monday.  <WHEW>  I was going to have to resort to calling my friend Guido to rough some people up.  Just kidding of course.  I'm still going away this weekend with the girlfriends and plan to do some heavy duty banking of sleeping hours.  (Oh how I wish you could really do this!)  Guess I'll only  need the wine now, and not the kleenex!  It's looking like we'll be leaving in about 2 weeks.


Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Unbelievable Agony

This is as hard as anything I have ever had the misfortune of enduring in my entire life.  People on the listserve are getting travel dates right and left.  Every day there is a new post, cheerfully chirping, "We have dates!" but all I can feel is empty, like some BMOC* is having a big party and we weren't invited.  Like banging my head on a brick wall, I find myself calling our coordinator in Texas way too often to weep and wail, as if by calling her I could will our dates into reality.  I told myself David and I would vie for the "patient-est clients of the year" award, but I'm afraid I have to drop out of the race.  I have tried to be philosophical; I have seen the benefit of our being here for everyone to start back to school.  Everyone is fine now ... settled and happy (for the most part ... not particularly happy about the homework load!).  I have shopped for gifts, clothes and such for Melanie, and for us.  What more is there to do?  I rearranged the girls' room ... it's ready and waiting.  I have cleared clutter out of our room, so David's parents will imagine that I am a really good housekeeper (boy do I have them snowed!)  We have our cash waiting patiently in a vault for us at the bank.  (We have to take brand-new bills, no marks or wrinkles, and no, it doesn't fill up a briefcase that we have to attach to our wrists with handcuffs.  Kazakhstan is mostly a cash economy, although they are moving into the 21st century at warp speed.)

If one more person asks me, "Have you heard anything yet?" I may be forced to yank out their eyeballs.  I know it's only curiosity and I appreciate their concern.  I genuinely do.  But deep down inside me there is this desire to maim and torture.  You know.  But of course I only smile and shrug. 

I told some girlfriends that I would go away with them this weekend if we hadn't heard about our travel dates yet.  And I told them to bring lots of wine and kleenex.  Let's hope they will be able to save their money.

*Big Man on Campus

Saturday, September 4, 2004

September 4, 2004

Just got through putting some finishing touches on Lisa and Melanie's room.