Russian Word of the Day

  • present = padarak

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The end.

It's over.

Our journey is over.
Like any monumental hike to the summit, the journey to the top must end the moment you reach the peak. At that pivotal moment everything changes and for an instant you live entirely for the sweeping and seemingly endless view of the world beyond the mountain.

This final blog posting is my "one moment" and I hope you will all forgive me for gushing about the incredible view I have of my life as the mother of two amazing boys.

Looking back on my last posts from Kazakhstan, it is strange how long ago our time in Almaty feels. I was elated and terrified, nervous and exhausted. Poor Garrett was just reeling. In an oddly fitting way, the sleepless haze of our days in Almaty felt very much the same as the days Calvin and I spent recovering from his birth. I guess delivering a child into your life is exceptionally difficult no matter how you go about it!

The flights home from Kazakhstan were everything I feared that they would be. I won't dwell, but suffice it to say that I spent most of the 20+ hours pacing back and forth down the narrow aisle of the plane. When we finally landed in San Francisco, neither Garrett nor myself had a single piece of clothing in the generously packed carry-on bag that hadn't been spit-up all over... but it didn't matter... because the moment that plane touched down Garrett Ruslan Snyder became a U.S citizen. We were finally home for good! Caroline lugged the carry-on bags through the customs line and the immigration line. Garrett was greeted at immigration by a very tanned, 22-year-old immigrations officer who actually said: "Welcome home, little dude" in a very surfer voice. Only in California! I almost started crying because it was so good to be home! But the most amazing moment was yet to come because I knew that just beyond the baggage claim, everyone was waiting to welcome us. My mom had suggested months ago that we have "a little welcome party" at the airport and I had agreed. As we lugged our last bags onto the cart and headed for the giant wall of frosted glass that led to the public area of the airport, I couldn't have been more glad for that decision. I was so elated to have made it home with my son that I wanted to show him off to everyone! If someone had asked me in that moment, if they should alert the international media to cover our exit from the airport I would have answered: "Of course!" Yet there was no need to call in the press, because the roar of cheers and applause that greeted us as we walked through those doors might very well have been heard all the way in Kazakhstan. Everyone was there: Tim and Calvin, and so many loving relatives and friends all holding up signs and cheering and waving and clapping! And there I was with Garrett, finally!

I've always held that in moments of intense emotion, your heart can be heard beating out a single word over and over again. For me, with my husband and my two sons in my arms, I could actually feel my heart beating out "finally." "finally." "finally." "finally."

Finally, I had them all. Finally, I had brought my family together. Finally.

And now our new life has begun and I must say that we have already found a beautiful rhythmn. It is almost unbelieveable to me how quickly Garrett has acclimated to our family and it is a constant source of amazement to Tim and me how a strong dose of parental love has lit up our youngest son. The sweet and silent doe-eyed baby I fell in love with in Schuchinsk has blossomed into an affectionate, silly, openly-opinionated, little guy who's giant brown eyes absolutely twinkle when he's happy... which, I can honestly say, is most of the time.

Within a week, Garrett started sleeping through the night, even without being swaddled. He is eating like a little football player. He talks all the time in a constant stream of "dadadadadadas" and squeals and loves to get a reaction to his sounds. If you feign surprise or pleasure he lights up with the biggest smile and does it all again. He cuddles against my shoulder when he is tired or overwhelmed in a way that absolutely melts my heart. He does the army crawl all over the house and shrieks with frustration before settling off on his slow motioned pursuit of a toy that is on the other side of the room. He blows an impressively wet "raspberry" with his tongue, a skill which he and his older brother spend many happy moments trying to perfect. He is an absolute ham for the camera and will happily mug while I attempt to get Calvin to unscrew his otherwise adorable face.
Calvin is a great big brother. He is my helper in all things Garrett related. If I leave the room during one of Garrett's feeding, you can be sure that I will return to find Calvin messily shoveling food into Garrett's open mouth. He races to Garrett's room at the first sign that Garrett is waking up from a nap and has, on several occasions, taken it on himself to go into Garrett's room during his nap "just to be sure that he is still asleep." Yesterday, he told me: "You will keep and eye on Garrett when I am not around, and I will keep an eye on Garrett when you are not around." He is Garrett's protector, checking each room to be sure that outlets are covered and that nothing too small or pointy ends up in his little brother's firm grip. Calvin has even shared his coveted Bear-Bear with Garrett. Now that is brotherly love!
As for me and Tim, we love the new math in our life. We love having two car seats, two bedtime routines, two baths to give, two heads to kiss. I am becoming a pro at giving Garrett his bottle while cutting up Calvin's spaghetti. I can read a book to Cal while making silly faces to Garrett. You can also add to my resume the ability to play a low speed, but satisfying game of "tag" with Calvin while Garrett is straped to my chest in the Baby Biorn.

We are, at long last, the wild and happy family I dreamed that we would be almost 16 long months ago when Tim and I officially started out on this amazing journey. I am thankful for every moment of that process, delays and all, because they brought us to this moment. I am thankful for each of you, as well, because your kind words on this blog have truly warmed my heart. Thank you for sharing in this journey and loving my little family. For those of you on the long roads to your own children, good luck and enjoy the ride!

Well, Garrett is waking up from his first nap and Calvin is, at this very moment, trying to help me type, so Mama is back on duty. I love you all. Thanks again.



P.S. - Calvin is already asking when he gets a little sister, so give us a couple of years and SnydersBacktoKaz may be up and running!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Last days in Almaty

Although we are safely at home now, having barely survived the ridiculously long flights home, I'm posting these updates from our last days in Almaty that I wrote but was unable to send because the local internet cafe forgot to pay their WiFi bill. I'm also adding pictures to the last post. Enjoy. I'll send a update from the homefront in a couple of days when we are all feeling more settled.

Trip 2 Day6 (part 2)
Garrett did remarkably well on the 3.5 hour drive from Schuchinsk to Astana. When we got in the car and pulled away from the babyhouse, his little eyes went as wide as saucers. He stared out the window, then at Caroline, then at me. He didn’t move, he didn’t cry. Every minute or so, he would let out a little whimper of distress, which I would try to soothe away with kisses. He was definitely frightened and confused and trying with all of his might to figure out what was going on! After about a half hour, however, he seemed to settle in. Because there are no car seats, or seatbelts for that matter, he sat on my lap and we played with all the toys that I had packed up. The rest of the ride to Astana was uneventful. We fed and changed him in the car, and arrived at the airport with four hours to wait before our flight to Almaty.
How did Garrett do on the flight, you ask? Well… let’s just say that he is not developing a reputation as an easy traveler. No, honestly though, he did as well as any 8-month-old who has just been taken away from the only life he has ever known and then kept up way past his bedtime could be expected to do. He cried a lot in the airport, so much in fact, that I turned around at one point to find that everyone else in our waiting area had moved to sit in a new section of the airport! When we got on the plane for our 11pm take-off, he just wanted to play… and after 4 hours of crying I was only to happy to do whatever it took to keep him in good spirits. Even before take-off however, I was running out of tricks to keep him entertained and disaster seemed inevitable. Luckily for us (and everyone else within earshot) a wonderful Kazakh babushka was seated right next to me. As Garrett started to get inconsolably fussy, she set down her book, clapped her hands and lifted Garrett off of my lap. For a moment I wavered between feeling hurt (“I am his mother, so I should get to hold him!”) and feeling insulted (“What makes her think that she can do any better”) but then I looked at Garrett. The novelty and sheer grandmotherly energy of the woman had caught his attention. He stopped fretting and smiled. Before I knew it, she and the woman sitting next to her, were singing Kazakh lullabies and playing games with my very content baby. And so the rest of the flight passed by with Garrett being passed back and forth between the grandmother and me. Thank God for grandmothers!
Garrett fell asleep at a little after midnight, just as we landed in Almaty. Caroline collected the bags and we stepped out into the chaotic public area of the airport where a hoard of paparazzi-like drivers were all eagerly offering to drive us. We search their faces for a glimmer of recognition that might indicate that they had been sent by our agency to collect us. No luck. Slowly the last of the passengers disembarked and the drivers who had not gotten jobs sat down to wait for the next flights into town. We had been forgotten! Or so it seemed. Five long minutes later, just as panic was starting to set in, who should sidle coolly up to us in an orange silk headband and sunglasses, but our old driver Sasha! I was so glad to be rescued that I nearly hugged him. Sasha was in a remarkably good mood. He smiled at my sleeping baby and turned down the 80s American pop music that was playing in his car. He even helped us bring our bags up the five flights of stairs at the new apartment. I changed Garrett and settled him into his crib and then collapsed myself in preparation for my first day as Garrett’s full time mom. Boy would I need the rest!
Paka. Becca

Trip 2 Day 7,8, and 9.
The last few days have been an absolute blur of happy baby kisses, sleepless nights, medical exams and exit visa interviews, happy baby games, Garrett crying, Mommy’s frayed nerves, and missing home. I’ve been a mother for 3 wonderful years, but all the same this has been a heck of a learning curve! I’ve got soo much to learn about Garrett and him about me! We’re working on it and we are so ready to come home and show him off to all his new friends and family!
Here are a few thing I have learned about my new little son after two days as his full-time mommy.
1. He is absolutely darling! True, I already knew this, but it’s worth reiterating. Garrett has a huge gummy smile that can light up a room and those huge hazel-brown eyes absolutely sparkle when he’s happy. I think that he and his big brother are going to absolutely charm the ladies when they are older!
2. He hates to nap… at least he hates the way in which I try to make him nap. It is entirely possible that he napped beautifully for the caregivers, but every one of my attempts have led to endless fits of inconsolable wailing. He must be swaddled super tightly if you have any hope of him sleeping. Last night he was able to free one of his arms from my inexpert swaddling and the excitement of the free arm made it impossible for him to do anything but practice talking at the top of his lungs. Oi!
3. He loves his bath. He smiles and coos when you pour the warm water all over him. So cute. Both of my boys are water babies.
4. He has got some lungs! During the month long bonding period at the babyhouse, Tim and I could barely get a peep out of him! But now my silent Garrett is an absolute chatterbug. It’s been amazing to see. He is constantly cooing and babbling and shrieking when he is happy. It’s darling to listen to and you can tell that he loves to hear himself talk. He loves to blow very wet ‘raspberries’ with his tongue. He ends up with drool running down his chin, but he loves it! The downside of this intense lungpower is that when he is sad or frustrated or angry he really lets it rip!
5. He loves my camera and will scoot across the room to try to grab it, if I leave it out. I remember this part from Calvin’s babyhood, any grown-up thing with buttons is a hit.
6. He gets so excited when it is meal time that his little arms actually shake with anticipation. He has no portion control. He will eat everything in sight and then shriek anxiously for more. If you give him more, he will eat that and then shriek anxiously for more… etc. If he can see a bottle anywhere in the room he fixates on it and gets too focused on eating to do anything else. He is growing strong and is going to be a big boy, but we are going to have to figure out how to help him know when his tummy is full. Hmmm. One of the many quirks of an institutionalized babyhood.
7. He loves to be naked. I’m not sure if he has ever experienced the thrill of warm sun on bare skin before, but I let him try it today and he loved loved loved it. He started crying when I finally had to put him back in his clothes.
8. He is ticklish especially on his tummy and feet. I’ve been having a great time of tickling shrieks of laughter out of him!
There is so much more, but I am exhausted. We’ve got one more day in Almaty. Caroline is out on the town. She has walked almost all of the city, bought colorful scarves and Kazakh jewelry at the open air bazaar, sweated in the humid air of the big sauna, and visited the replica of the Golden Man at the museum. All of it sounds wonderful and we will have to get her to catch us all up with pictures of the city I have stayed in but not really seen.
We’re ready to come home. We will spend tomorrow playing and packing and trying to rest. We head to the airport at midnight for our 3am flight to Frankfurt. We will make it home for good right around noon on the 16th. I can’t wait to see you all and to show off Garrett in person! Until then, wish us luck because we need it! Love you all and see you soon!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last day in the nursery

Trip 2 Day 6 (Part 1- from an internet cafe in Almaty... because we have no internet (or hot water) at the apartment.)

How momentous and wonderful and absolutely frazzling have the last two days been for my little family. Wow. Garrett Ruslan Snyder is finally ours full time and for real!
Caroline and I drove to the baby house in Schuchinsk for the last time yesterday morning. Nursultan’s van was packed to the gills because also in the van was Shizada, Makhabbat, Terri, all of Terri’s luggage, and all of our luggage. It was Terri’s court date as well as our “pick up” date, so both of us were heading to the airport after the baby house to catch various flights across the country (us) and around the world (Terri). Adding to the chaos was the fact that a new adoptive mother was arriving in town, and needed to be escorted to the baby house after Terri’s court time but before our departure. Makhabbat and Shizada couldn’t move quickly enough in the day’s family shuffle.
So Nursultan dropped Caroline and me at the front door of the babyhouse, while the rest of the gang headed to the court. It was bittersweet and wonderful knowing that I was walking down the faded turquoise hallway for the last time past the mural showing the smiling children of the world. This is the place where babies come from (according to Calvin) and there is a certain magical truth in that.
So, terrified of 10+ hours at the airport waiting for our late night flight, we convinced the baby house staff to allow us one more play session with Garrett in the music room, followed by one last baby house nap and feeding for Garrett before we headed to the airport. Garrett was so glad to see us again and, being totally unaware of the huge journey ahead of him, played and laughed and squealed just like the happy little cherub he is. When our playtime was over we returned him to the nursery, much to the confusion of the caregivers, who apparently had not been informed of our grand plan. I pantomimed returning in two hours and eventually they understood that I was indeed going to come back for my son!
Unfortunately, this is where the complicated shuffle of families in and out of Schuchinsk put a snag in our plans. Understanding that we would be through with our visit just as Terri got out of court, we had planned on having lunch with Terri, Makhabbat, and Shizada and then returning for Garrett. So Caroline and I sat on the warped blue bench in front of the babyhouse and waited for them to return. We waited and waited and waited. We watched the elderly staff member in charge of gardening methodically fill buckets from a nearby tap and slowly water a rectangular patch of dahlias she had just finished replanting. Caroline attempted to take a nap on the sunny little bench but the sight of one of us laying down drew such disturbed fascination from the caregivers passing through the court yard that I woke her up fearing that our reputation was at stake. Eventually, one of the babyhouse cleaning women came over to sit next to us. She spoke no English at all but we chatted anyway, using Caroline’s Russian phrase book to try to explain why we were sitting in the courtyard. Snatching up the phrasebook, the cleaning woman proceeded to flirt with one of the workmen who was making repairs to the building. With our pronounciation help, she told the worker that she loved him, that he should kiss her and then marry her. He, of course, had no idea what she was saying, so the three of us women laugh riotously between translations. Our hilarity caught the attention of the other cleaning women who all set down their bucket and came over to sit in the sun with us. We listened to them chatter and soaked up the rays of the warm spring day until Nursultan arrived almost an hour later. Little did we know it, but the time for lunch had come and gone. Terri went in to see Dylan (now officially her son) and Makhabbat and Shizada escorted the new mom into the babyhouse, stopping briefly at our bench to explain that we should pick up a quick lunch at a café and then come back for Garret and go to the airport. I was a little startled at the change of plans. “Are you going to be here when we pick up Garrett?” I asked Makhabbat. “No,” she said “I must go with the new lady.” And that was that. We hugged Makhabbat and thanked her for everything and a bit flustered headed off to a new car that had just pulled up for us and into which Nursultan was putting our luggage. We drove off to the café and that was the last I saw of the woman who had been our friend and daily companion in this life changing adventure. Sad, really, but life goes on.
We popped into Tim’s favorite “skulka” café and then went next door to the pharmacy to pick up the baby food that we would need for Garrett. We ate hurriedly on the short drive back to the babyhouse and then went in alone to take Garrett out.
Garrett was just finishing his last babyhouse lunch of compote and sour milk porridge. With my heart racing faster than usual, I changed him and kissed him and told him to say “paka.” Then, trying not to cry, I asked the caregivers if I could get a picture of them with Garrett. They set down the other children they were feeding and obliged. The taller of the two stroked Garrett’s head as I took him back and told me “on harashow malchilk” (he’s a good boy). I smiled and we left. On our way out of the babyhouse we stopped by the director’s office to thank him one last time and to give him the donation that my sisters in law so kindly put together. We took a picture with him and the babyhouse doctor and then all spent a moment “spaceeba-ing” (thanking) each other. The babyhouse doctor told me that I should come back for a girl next time. We all laughed and then we headed out the door .
More tomorrow!

Monday, May 11, 2009

On your marks... get set... GO!

Trip 2 Day 5

The sun is just coming up here in Kokshetau, but I have already unpacked and repacked our suitcases two times in preparation for today's excitement. I feel like a swimmer on a diving board shaking out the last kinks in her muscles, breathing deeply, and staring at the far side of the pool. This is the big plunge that I've been waiting for. I'm trying to hold off the sadness I feel at leaving Kokshetau for the last time and keep myself focused on the really joyous fact that I'm about to start my journey home with Garrett. We've done it. From the chrysalis of the adoption journey, my new little family is about to emerge once and for all. Garrett and I have an amazing new life waiting on the other side of the ocean. How beautiful is that?!
The journey itself has been extraordinary and I will forever be in love with Kazakhstan, Kokshetau, Schuchinsk, and the good friends I've made here. I can't say enough how blessed I feel for the way that Kazakhstan has welcomed us and how very very grateful I am for all of the experiences we have had along the way. Now it is time to pack out from Kokshetau for good and with a heart brimming with love start our journey home with my son.

I'll write again from Almaty once we get settled.



Happy Boy and Happy Mama

Trip 2 Day 4

What a difference a day makes! Garrett was all smiles today. When I walked into the babyhouse, he caught sight of me, smiled that huge gummy smile, shrieked with joy and started bouncing up and down in his little chair. It was such a nice welcome that I almost floated away with happiness. Garrett smiled and babbled away as I changed him into his "americanski" clothes, it was as if he had so much to tell me. Usually he is so quiet, bu today he couldn't stop talking!

In the music room Garrett showed me all of his new tricks. He can sit up all by himself. He can babble "dadadadadada."
But his favorite thing is hamming it up for the camera! Today, we hardly got a single decent picture of my incredibly cute boybecause whenever I held up my camera, he would either squint his eyes closed...

or stick out his tongue.

Even Mommy got in on the action.

He was really really smily today, but you'll just have to take my word for it!

So we played and laughed and cuddled. Then Makhabbat disapeared for a moment and reappeared with none other than... the yellow bowling pin bear! Talk about excitement! Even more exciting is that this particular bowling pin bear is ours to keep. Makhabbat talked to the head of the caregivers who said we could take him home! Wow. We better head for the plane before they change their minds.

Speaking of planes, we are off tomorrow! Eeek! We won't be able to write, so here is the plan so that you all know what is going on in the absence of my usual blog post. Caroline and I will head to Shcuchinsk at 8:30. We will sign some papers at a local notary and pick up his birth certificate and adoption certificate. Then we will head to the babyhouse for our usual 1.5 hour visit. We will give Garrett back to the caregivers for his nap and Caroline and I will have lunch in Schuchinsk. Then we will return to the babyhouse. The caregivers will give Garrett his gruel and compote. They we will officially take custody and head for the airport! We will arrive at the airport at 6pm. Someone from the agency will meet us there and give us Garrett's passport. Then we will wait and wait and wait for our plane to depart for Almaty at 10pm. We will arrive in Almaty in the wee hours of the morning and be taken to a local apartment where we will (hopefully) all fall fast asleep. What a day! Wish us luck!

For now we are off to a restaurant to eat shashleek (kabobs) for Teri's birthday. Tomorrow is her court date too. It's a big day for everyone!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

A happy mother's day from Garrett!

Trip 2 Day 2 (Part 2)

My baby! My baby! I got to see my baby!
O.K. now normally, I wouldn't subject you all to each detail of my babyhouse visit, but a reunion this monumental deserves a little special attention.
We arrived at the babyhouse this morning with armloads of gifts. I had: 1) a huge bag of clothing donations which I didn't have room in my suitcase to carry on our first trip, 2) another big bag of containing 60 of those wonderful burp clothes that my talented mother-in-law Jill makes. The caretakers loved the ones that I brought on the first trip, so Jill made lots more, 3) chocolate chip cookies for the caretakers, 4) chocolate chip cookies for the "big kids", 5) a money donation for the babyhouse from my amazing sisters-in-law, and 6) a CD of photos of Sasha which Makhabbat will hold onto until his parents arrive to meet him at the end of the month.

Caroline and I were totally laden with gifts, but nonetheless I dropped it all in the waiting room and practically sprinted into the nursery to see my baby.... and there he was!!! Finally! My perfect little pumpkin was tied into the high chair with a strip of clothe, just like always, when his long-absent Mama pounced on him! You should have seen how bewildered he looked.
Anyway, I swooped him up and kissed him and changed him and kissed him. Then, just for good measure, I kissed him some more. Eventually, a very amused Makhabbat wrestled him from me long enough to saddle him with a fluffy pink hat and a quilted jacket. She handed him back and shooed me outside. We found a quiet spot and cuddled for a long moment. Here is the thing I am puzzling over. I can't tell if he remembers me or not. That month apart is an awful thing!!! He just snuggled himself into my shoulder and stayed there pressed against me like a little koala bear while I rocked and talked and sang. Every once in a while he would look up at me a seem to puzzle over me for a moment before settling his head back against my chest. I can't tell if he was confused and thinking "who in the heck is this woman" or if he remembered me and was thinking "I can't believe she came back." One thing is for certain; he was overwhelmed! When Makhabbat came over and tried to tease him into smiling, he wrinkled up his little face and started silently crying. The same thing happened when Caroline came over. My poor little bug! So that's what makes me think that he might remember me... he didn't cry when he looked at me... he just stared and then pressed his head into my shoulder. We will try to staunch my "mommy guilt" by saying that he definately might remember me. Oh, I love my sensative little boy, whether he remembers me or not.

After a while we were allowed to go in. Caroline stayed outside with the big kids for a while, yes, I mean Sasha's group... and they made a great game out of picking weeds and handing them to her. Garrett and I headed up to the music room and I unpacked all of his toys. He definately remembered them! Those little plastic keys went straight into his mouth. I also brought along a stuffed cat toy, which we are calling Koshka (russian for 'cat'). On our first trip Garrett always wanted to touch the old stuffed animals that the babyhouse has hung up on the walls, so I was pretty sure that he would like the stuffed animal I had for him at home. I decided to bring it along as a transitional item, so that he would have something familiar to him when he got home. Suffice it to say that Koshka was an instant sucess! Garrett loved him. He petted Koshka and smiled when I whisked Koshka's fur against his face. He chewed on Koshka's ear. He even cooed a little bit when he was playing with Koshka, and for my silent little Garrett that is a big deal.

Once we were in the music room my little guy started to warm up a bit. He was happy to play with his toys and smiled a bit when I tickled him and played games with his feet. I took him to the mirror and he stared at his cute little refection and banged his toy keys against the mirror. He was facinated by his auntie Caroline and kept staring at her.

Oh! He learned to crawl while we are gone. He can't quite get that tummy off the ground, but when he wants something he scoots off to get it. Very cute.

A little while later, Caroline and Makhabbat came in with Teri (the other mom adopting a baby from Garrett's group) and her new son Dylan. Makhabbat had also fetched the cookies that I made for the big kids, so I forced myself to leave Garrett for a moment and Caroline and I ran across the hall to give the big kids their treat. They had just come in from their playtime outside and looked a bit startled when we walked into their room, but when I sat down on the couch and announce "Pechenia! Pechenia!" (cookies! cookies!), they threw caution to the wind. I had a stampede of darling three year old on my hands! They were all there: Sasha (of course), Kerial, Ruslan, Karina, and about six others who's names I never learned. They are so cute. At the caregiver's prompting the all shouted "Spaceeba!" with big smiles and mouths full of cookies.

Then it was back to Garrett. When I came back into the room, he was sitting on Makhabbat's lap next to Teri and Dylan. Dylan and Garrett were both playing with Koshka and with eachother. Teri added funny commentary. For example. Garrett would lunge forward and grab Dylan by the cheek (Teri would say: "Oh, I like your face!"). Then Dylan would grab the strap of Garrett's overalls and try to chew on them (Teri would say: "Thanks, your outfit is nice too. Mind if I eat it?") This went on and on with the babies pawing all over each other like little puppies and Teri offering up "Look Who's Talking" dialogue.

All too soon our time was up and I had to return the baby who really is officially mine! Garrett grinned and shrieked with joy when he saw his caregiver. He loves those ladies. I hate for him to have any sorrow in his little life and I know that it's going to be really hard for him when they disappear. I only hope that I can bridge that gap and fill that void for him quickly! I love him so much.
When we got back to the cottage, Caroline and I dropped our stuff and wandered around the town for a couple hours. It is still the holiday weekend, and someone has set up a little stand in the plaza where they rent tiny cars to the children. Their were probably about eight of the zooming around, some controlled by their tiny occupants and some remote controlled by parents who followed behind at a distance. We wandered through the fabulous open air market which sells everything from fruit to shoes to car parts! As we started home we found that the fountains on the other side of Gorky park have been turned on, much to the delight of the kids. We we were almost home we happened upon a wedding party releasing a cluster of red balloons into the blue sky. It was all lovely.
I can't wait for tomorrow's visit!