David here...I made it home yesterday (Monday afternoon) with no problem. It was so great to see the kids...our being gone was really hard on them. Both Christian and Lisa did not leave my side from the time I got home (around 3:30 pm) until bedtime...of course that was just fine with me. The rest is Liz's post that she emailed to me...man, you don't realize how much you miss broadband until you don't have it -- I didn't know pictures could load that fast -- Ha!) I have also added some pictures to the prior posts we made from Almaty -- Enjoy! ...David
Liz: News flash! There is NOTHING left in TSUM (the big department store), my mother has bought it out. History has been made; the officials are bewildered. Seriously ... today we went to TSUM to shop, and we felt so sorry for Vitallik being stuck with two shopaholic women, so we sent him on his way. We took a short break for lunch at "Mammamia's" ... it was VERY good for you WPA'ers coming to Almaty. After catching our breath, we were back at it. Mom's mission was to find a paring knife, since the knives in our apartment couldn't cut melted butter. We came home for a quick rest, then went to a pizza place to meet Cheryl & Brian Nigri, and Corey & Erik Halls. We had a beer & a nice visit before Melanie decided it was time to go home. Mom fixed her famous skillet potatoes and we had fun opening a bottle of wine with her Swiss Army knife. Wish I'd had the video camera for that scene.
Melanie is sitting here at the dinner table telling a story with gestures and expression in her voice, but without saying any words. She'll wave her hands, just like we do when we're talking, and then she'll just die laughing, as if she said something hysterically funny! Too funny. She's doing so well ... eating like a champ, sleeping very well. Usually when I put her down we have a few minutes of tears, while I'm sitting next to the crib telling her, "It's okay, mommy's right here, and patting her tummy. Last night I put her in the bed, and she rolled over and went to sleep without making a peep. I didn't hear anything else from her until 8:00. She is so funny ... she loves to play the "run the opposite way from where mom wants me to go" just like a professional two year old, complete with devilish grin. She wants to touch EVERYTHING ... imagine, she has lived in a room with very little "stuff" in it, and now she's surrounded with things ... things that make noise, and feel interesting to the touch. I have to stay on top of her all the time. She is a true perpetual motion machine.
I was thinking the other day about things I have learned on this trip. Call it my "tip sheet" if you will:
1. Make your child's plane reservation as soon as you arrive in Kazakhstan.
2. In TaldyKorgan, take a shower as early in the day as you can ... later in the morning, the hot water will slow to a trickle, and it's like taking a shower in the rain.
3. Bring a towel AND a washcloth to Taldy.
4. Bring some length of clothesline.
5. Bring an extra small pillow. (I brought one of those u-shaped airplane pillows .. David brought a camping pillow).
6. You can get a lot of the comforts of home in Taldy ... like M&M's, Snickers, Twix, ramen noodles and instant oatmeal. (The apple flavor is delish!)
7. Coke & Pepsi are available. The "Mirinda" orange soda is really good. You can also get Lipton Iced Tea in cans, and it's very good. Not as sweet as in the US. It comes in Lemon & Peach flavors.
8. Some suggestions for Aida: Her daughter, Saida, is 3 years old. Aida likes the US Lipton tea bags (she says they taste better than the Kaz ones). She likes children's tylenol elixir for Saida. She wears silver jewelry, likes green Orbit gum from the US, & peanut butter). She loves old English magazines.
9. The fruit juice and yogurt in Kaz. is wonderful. The "Dada" brand of juice we think tastes the best -- the cherry juice is sooo good. It tastes like eating real cherries, not the artificial "cherry" flavoring that we have in the states. The apple juice is delicious too ...
10. Bring plenty of moisturizer and lotion ... the air is very dry. Melanie's skin is very dry too, and she loves for me to put lotion on her. But you can buy it there, as well as diapers and wipes. (Or wipers & dipes as my mom likes to call it!).
Signing off for now!!