Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina and the Waves

..I'm walking on sunshine ... woo woo ... Man, what a nightmare.  My folks live 90 miles north of New Orleans, so of course I had some worried moments.  However, Katrina performed a miracle for New Orleans by taking her slight right turn.  Good for N.O., bad for Biloxi, Pass Christian, Gulfport, all places that I know and love.  It's just catastrophic .. awful.  My parents and sister have no power, and my in-laws in Jackson, Mississippi are in the dark as well.  I have tried to call my sister all day, but all circuits are busy.  I talked to them all yesterday so I know they're fine; they only got winds and very little rain.  Ugh.

I walk around the house looking at all the stuff we have and get sick just thinking about packing it all up.  I'm giving myself until Sept. 1 to be lazy about it, then we have 29 days to get our act in gear.  I'm seriously thinking about renting a huge dumpster and throwing away 90% of what is in our house.  Seriously.  And in light of the events on the coast, it's just stuff ... it's almost shameful how much we have, and it could all be blown away, just like that.  Sorry this isn't a cheery and upbeat entry ...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Just When We Were Feeling Sorry for Ourselves ...

...we got an offer on our house!  Very reasonable offer, we're very happy with it.  No more showings!  Wahoo.  Now the "real" fun starts:  packing! 

Not much else to report ... Colin started back to school today .. no longer at the bottom of the heap, now he's a sophomore!  Maybe that would explain his sophomoric behavior.  Just KIDDING!


Monday, August 22, 2005

...But We're Still Laughing!

1.  Both of the houses that were for sale on our street have sold.  The showings have slowed to a trickle.  We (I) have decluttered and decluttered and we're still hearing "declutter"!

2.  Christian decided to use one of the kitchen cabinet doors as a swing and it split down the middle.  I heard cuss words from David that I've never heard before!  But we were happy that Christian was honest and apologetic about it, and weren't too angry with him.

3.  David goes to Lowe's to pick out the myriad of hardware that he needed to fix the cabinet door and some other things.  After an hour of meticulously combing through the aisles and finally assembling his "kit", he turned to look at something, and a helpful Lowe's employee took his shopping cart away and started re-shelving everything.  More cuss words.  I think we're a Home Depot family now.

4.  Melanie decides to put an obstacle course with a step stool up for mom, just to see if she's paying attention.  Well of course, she wasn't, so down she goes, face planting into the (thank goodness) carpet.  Unfortunately, the glasses are DOA.

5.  We completely forgot to take Christian to "skills day" for the fall baseball season yesterday.  Guess he'll have to settle for being the bat boy.  (NOT!)

6.  We still have our sense of humor.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Thought I would share the proofs for Melanie's Louisiana photo shoot in July.  (And no, that's not our dog ... it's the photographer's standard poodle, Cody).  Every time Melanie sees a dog she goes ape, and shouts, "Ai Ai!  Ai Ai!"  She absolutely loves them.  Even looking at a magazine she can spot the dogs.  I need to work on her about approaching dogs she doesn't know ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Dad Update

Thanks to all who have expressed concern about my dad (Grandpa).  I called the hospital yesterday morning, expecting to get mom, and Dad answered the phone!  He sounded just like his old self.  He had just returned from a CAT scan, and reported that there were no cats in there.  His sense of humor is still intact, so I know he's doing better.  All tests have ruled out any type of "event" (stroke or heart) so the conclusion is that he just tripped and fell, and unfortunately fell on something very hard.  My sister said that seeing him there on the ground, she thought for sure he was dead, and now he's asking for his robe so he can walk around the hospital!  Wow ...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ... still trying to keep the house looking pristine (no easy task), and getting back into the homework groove.  Melanie and I continue to go to speech therapy (well, Melanie does) 3X a week.  Quentin is pushing the envelope with his long hair.  We did have it cut the day before school started, but the principal "suggested" that he have it cut more.  Quentin is trying to see how long it will take before the suggestion becomes an order.  Way to get in the principal's good graces, "Cleem".  (Nickname from the Kaz trip.)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

My Dad

My dad turned 78 yesterday, and unfortunately celebrated it with a ride to the hospital in an ambulance.  He had gone out to the garage/patio to make sure the barbecue was shut down properly, and either tripped or fainted, falling face first into his workbench and a metal vise attached to the end of it.  Mom went looking for him and found him unconscious on the floor fo the garage.  He has fractured the bones in his cheek as well as some ribs, and has terrible gashes on his face and arm.  As of now he is in the hospital on some major pain medications, but all seems stable.  The doctors are going to do some investigating to see if he passed out from some sort of cardiac "event" but right now they don't know for sure.  Dad has no memory of falling.  Mom says he looks like a train wreck.  We all would appreciate positive healing vibes!

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Re-entry is Tough

This was a tough weekend, with the guys recovering from jet lag, and having to stay out of the house due to showings.  I dragged Quentin and David around the mall while they were half-asleep.  I mean, it was tax-free weekend!  We had to "save" some money!

Quentin had a great trip, as did David, of course.  Q. has to finish his summer reading at warp speed, as school starts tomorrow, and he's a little behind.  He said he knew it would bite him on the .. ahem ..

In the meantime, we have had to have some carpet replaced in the study, which involved moving some very heavy furniture.  Today I have some stuff to put away, go to the kids' school to meet their teachers, and we have company coming tonight. 

Lisa, Christian and Colin arrived home safely last night.  They had a great time with their grandparents ... thanks again Grandmama for taking such good care of them.  Christian was a little homesick for you last night ... he really enjoyed his stay.

Tomorrow, on top of it being the first day of school (tomorrow morning will be ugly!!) our realtors are having a "realtor's luncheon" at the house (where they invite all the realtors from the area to see the house and provide feedback) so Melanie and I will have to be scarce at that time.  I'm scouting out all the places that we can go when we have to be away from home.  Hoping that some of them don't involve spending money, but I'm not holding my breath.  Last Saturday I had to vacate the premises with 30 minutes' notice and found myself putting on my makeup in the parking lot of McDonald's. 

Well, it's time to get my act in gear ... I'm afraid the phone will ring at any moment with a showing scheduled.  Ack!

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Almost Home ...

Well, we're almost there. The flight was overbooked so dad and I hit the
mother of all home runs because they bumped us up to BUSINESS CLASS!

England was fun. We didn't get to go to the gory London Dungeon majibber I
wanted to go but we did get to go on the London eye. It was the CN Tower all
over again but I did it!

Also, we ate some fish&chips and went sightseeing. We saw Big Ben and
Parliament. We didn't go inside anything but we managed a lot in 4 hours.

Be home soon,

Friday, August 5, 2005

Couple of Pictures (hijacked from Pat)

Just a few pictures of the boys from Pat's letters to the Ohio paper.  Quentin ought to be excited that he was in the paper, even if it was in Ohio!

They made it to London, and to their hotel room.  They were going out to prowl, but a lot of the things they wanted to do were closed (it was already 5 p.m.)  I'm sure there is some night life there, and I'm hoping to get a full report.  They will fly home tomorrow at 3 in the afternoon.



Thursday, August 4, 2005

Last Day Celebrations

Just time for a quick update.  We arrived in Almaty on Wednesday afternoon, and went to a group dinner at the American Bar with all the WPA families in country...some just arriving and some with children waiting to go home.  We had a huge crowd, and it was fun to visit with everyone.     Yesterday (Thursday morning) we went to the zoo so Sarah Reed could see a camel.  Then we went shopping for the necessary souveniers.  Last night, the three Altynbaev sisters hosted our team for a celebration dinner at a local Uzbek restaurant, which was complete with a show including circus performers and belly dancers.   We all had a lot of fun for our last night.  Some of the group flew out early am, and we are heading to the airport right now.     We will hopefully wrap up the story when we return home.    Love to all....David   

Quentin Says:  Well we ate at the Uzbek Restaraunt last night, which was a very exotic and entertaining restaraunt. But the food sucked. Every time I took a bite of lamb rib My throat would burn for 10 minutes. All I ate actually was some cow tongue, which actually tasted pretty good, but you're thinking about what you're eating...bluhh... Luckily I got sick on the last day, the bad news is, I got sick and am not looking forward to the last day. At least we went out with a bang in Taldy Korgan. Not so much in Almaty, Almaty was more like a fuse.

Tuesday Update -- Sorry it's so late!

Dateline Taldy…Tuesday update.

Well, everything is finished. We finished the holes on Sunday afternoon, and yesterday (Monday), the concrete truck showed up on time (which actually surprised us!). However, when I say concrete truck, what I mean is a dump truck filled with concrete, which proceeded to dump it on a tarp on the ground, and we had to "wheelbarrow" it to where it was needed. However, I must say that it really did come in handy, and it would have taken a lot of concrete mixed by hand to fill the holes for the two swingsets.

While all of this was going on, Gulnara and the Babyhouse Director went shopping to purchase items for the baby house with the money donated by several of the families here. They wanted to purchase some medical equipment, but were told that there was none in Kaz to be purchased. So, they ended up purchasing 10 cribs, 10 baby cribs, two double stollers, a Little Tykes play house (indoor) and slide, and two tricycles. So today (Tuesday) we spent finishing the playground (hanging the swings and putting the sand out) and put together all of the cribs, etc. We have the official ceremony with all of the local officials this afternoon at 5 pm, but we had an "unofficial" luncheon with the director and doctors of the babyhouse where they expressed their gratitude for all that was given. What was really neat was when the director pulled out all of the letters and pictures that had been sent in by the families that were there (us, Ameling, Reed, Douglas, and Schmidt), and said how grateful they were that we still cared enough to send back information about our children, and that it really meant a lot to everyone at the babyhouse. She was also thrilled that several of us brought their children (Reeds and Ameling) or brought siblings back to Taldy Korgan.

We also had a grand tour of the babyhouse by the doctors and director, and it was really interesting to see parts of the babyhouse that we have never seen before (kitchen, laundry, swimming pool and sauna, etc.). We also visited the groups where our adopted kids came from, but it was naptime for Melanie’s group, so we could only peek in, but didn’t get a chance to play.

At 5 pm, we returned to the babyhouse for a ceremonial dinner with some local officials and BH staff. There was a lot of toasting, etc., but it was really nice. The staff made homemade monty for the meal, and it was really delicious. After the speechifying was completed, we went out to the playground and got a chance to play with the kids.

Plans are to head back to Almaty tomorrow (Wednesday), and then we fly out on Friday morning for home.

See everyone soon!

Love..David & Quentin

Quentin Says: Last Night at dinner, we ate a restaurant called Shagala (Seagull.) It took literally 2 ½ hours to get our food. Although I had a really good chicken steak, I had already filled up on chicken noodle soup, filled with dill... The Baby House director couldn’t pronounce my name so she started calling me Klim (Pronounced KLEEM) which just so happens to be a brand of powdered milk… I still think it’s cool.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Bye Bye Buggies

Hope Pat doesn't mind, but I'm stealing these pictures to put on here.  They are just too precious ... these are closeups of the "Bye Bye Buggies" that WPA sent to the baby houses, the 6-seater strollers that most daycares in the US have.  Call them "Baby Limos" if you will ... in Taldy Korgan we observed the caregivers strapping two (delapidated) strollers together with rope, with a baby in each.  The rest of the kids who could walk were instructed to put a hand on the strollers and follow along as they walked on the grounds of the Baby House.  Sort of like a herd of babies.  Of course every few steps one of the kids would fall down or trip, and the herd would have to stop and calm tears before carrying on with the slow laps around the building. 

With the Bye Bye Buggies, the kids can go on walks in style!

No letter from David yet, but stay tuned.  They were supposed to have the dedication of the new playground today in Taldy.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Dateline Taldy, Part Deux <edited>

Thanks to Pat Ameling for forwarding this to me.  They must have their own internet connection ... oh, and thanks, Pat, for picking the dill off of Quentin's pelmini so he would eat it, and thanks for getting the dirt out of his eye!  You always need a mom around, don't you?

Dateline Taldy….

Well, we arrived in Taldy-Korgan on Saturday afternoon, and went straight to the babyhouse to unload the truck, which went very quickly as we knew everything had to come off. We then went to the hotel to check in and get settled, and then went back to the babyhouse to start working. Given that the temperature is hotter here than in Almaty, an executive decision was made by the group to work early morning and late afternoon, and take a long lunch break in between. So we started building Saturday evening around 5:00 pm, and actually finished the playset by 7:00 pm. The babyhouse director was also there, so we discussed where to place the other items (tot-tree and other animals) for about an hour – moving everything around here and there – and eventually ended up right where we started….go figure.

Anyway, we left the hotel around 8 am on Sunday morning to start work (while it was slightly cooler and there was some shade in the courtyard), and by lunchtime (which is when I’m writing this) all the holes for the benches, animals, and one swingset were finished, so all we have left is the finish the other swingset. The problem is that given the space limitations in the courtyard, we are installing a different type of swingset which has just one central pole at each side, and then the pole the swings attach to on top. Thus, the holes for these have to be 3 feet deep and two feet wide. Unfortunately, it appears that this babyhouse was built on the site of an old airport, and the area we are trying to dig is full of rocks (most quite large), which has slowed us down somewhat.

Given the amount of concrete that will be required, we have ordered a truck to come on Monday, as trying to mix the concrete by hand would take a long time. We have asked that the truck arrive at 10 am, so hopefully it will come somewhere near that time. In Almaty, the dumptrucks with the sand were supposed to be there at 9 am, and arrived at 4 pm. So, we’ll see.

Quentin Says: Today was probably the most boring day so far because all we’ve done is dig holes. I am not able to help with that so I slept on the slide. Although I did get to climb into the hole we were digging to pick up rocks. I want to eat some horse because apparently it tastes like lamb. We ate goat and some shasleek (is that spelled right?) It was good. We went to visit Melanie’s old baby house group yesterday, and I must say it was weird because the kids were all half-naked and running up to you. Yasmine and Aida remembered dad.   When we get the cement and the sand we will finish pretty quickly.