Russian Word of the Day

  • present = padarak

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Great Outdoors - Babyhouse style!

Day 22

Another stunning blue sky greeted us in Schuchinsk this morning, bringing with it the excitment of Garrett's very first excursion outdoors! Yes, at over seven months old, Garrett has never been outside! The children here are permitted to play outside. In fact, the older children take daily walks, even in the winter. But Garrett hasn't been around long enough to see the warm season in Kazakhstan and so today we were present for his first moments under the sun and sky!

Garrett, however, was hardly able enjoy the outing, because he could hardly see out of his snowsuit! Even though it was a beautiful day that didn't even warrant a sweater for Mama, Garrett had to be in three underlayers, a snowsuit, a hat with earmuffs, and a scarf over his cheeks and mouth. You couldn't even feel him through his pillowy blue suit. I told Tim that they successfully disguised our baby as an empty snowsuit.Only his big light brown eyes with those huge lashes were visable between layers, looking sleepier with each passing moment. THe heat really got to him and by the time we were called back inside and the caregivers took off the snowsuit, he was dripping with sweat and had a small heat rash developing behind his ears, something the caregivers noted with the quiet satisfaction of a job well done. Tim accurately quoted Randy of the Christmas Story saying "I can't put my arms down!"

Why the heavy snowsuit? Attitudes towards childhood are very different in the former soviet union than in America. Babies are considered extremely fragile and suseptible to illness. Kazakhstanis believe that birth damages the child and that extensive medical treatments are needed to help the baby recover from this trauma. All of the babies here receive months of massage to rehabilitate them from the aftereffects of birth trauma.

While we were outside, our favorite group of big kids came out for their outside play time. They were so happy to be outside!!! The caregiver seemed to be having a good time too, because she led the kids in a happy little conga line...and waved to a friend in the infirmary...and then she broke out a package of chalk and the kiddos doodled on the pavement and walls of the babyhouse.
I've said it before, but I have to say it again. There is so much fear surrounding the adoption of toddlers, but seeing what I've seen, I couldn't be more comfortable these little guys. They are loveable and charming and so ready for a home. Here's my favorite little cutie, Sasha, again. I just can't resist taking pictures of him. He's such a little sweetie. Today I saw him hand a piece of chalk to the french woman that is adopting here. He said "Here you go, Mama." She said, "I'm not your mama, I'm Karina's Mama." I couldn't take it. It just broke my heart. When we got back inside and striped Garrett down, he perked back up and wanted to play.

When our time was up, we got a lesson from Garrett's favorite caregiver in "swaddling 101." Let's just say that I'm not a quick study. But, while I was swaddling, Tim got some great pictures of the sleeping area (Garrett has crib #2, Tim's lucky number) and even one of a little bug who was in the highchair.

It was a good day at the orphanage, but our adventures didn't stop when we got back to the cottage. Calvin, who has struck up a fast friendship with the neighbor boy, Ali, was refusing his nap. He pretended to be asleep for a while, then with no apparent catalyst came racing downstairs, shouting "Open the door. Open the door. My favorite person is outside!" He turned the lock and swung open the door to reveal Ali smiling shyly on the porch. Calvin must have been looking out the window upstairs and seen Ali come over to play. They played cars and shared snacks for about an hour. It was so cute to see Ali prattling away in Russian and then Calvin prattling away in English. Neither of them seemed to notice that they couldn't understand each other!
Tim and I went for a walk around town later and ended up being tailed by several twelve year old boys, Anton and Vlad. After they followed us up and down alleys and side streets giggling. When we finally realized that they were going to make an afternoon of "following the Americans," we stopped and called them over for a picture. They walked the next five miles with us, spouting the few English phrases they knew. "California," I'd say. "California?" Anton repeated. "Disneyland?" I'd say. "Ah, Disneyland!" They'd say. We learned that they liked "basketball" and "Musica 'Fifty Cent'." They were especially impressed with Tim's 'machina' the "Americanski Moostang!"

We finally lost Anton and Vlad at the grocery store. We were sure that if they saw the cottage they would show up again tomorrow. They sure had fun walking the streets of Kokshetau with the Americanski!




patrice said...

How special that you were able to take Garrett on his first stroll outdoors. He looked like a little Michelin man. (:-) It warms my heart to think of all of the strolls that the four of you will be taking in the not to distant future.
Love you,
Aunt Patrice

Channing said...

Hi Auntie Wacka,

It's me, Brookie. I'm looking at the blog with my mommy and I just told her I want to go to 'kazanstam'. I miss you, Calvin, and Uncle Tim. Happy early b-day, Auntie Wacka. Okay, I'm off to celebrate with Carson. I love and miss you and can't wait until you all come home.


Nicole Faraclas said...

Wow. What a momentous day! The great outdoors welcomes you Garrett! I'm so glad the weather is getting warmer and brighter, and thrilled you all got to be there on Garrett's first day out.

Baby Kaz Moore said...

I love your posts! And I cracked up about your "Randy from Christmas Story" comment. We've all said, too! Sweet Sasha. I hope he finds his Forever Family. Take care, Susan

Sam, Ryan, and Gabby said...

Wow, a big day for you guys! Cute little Garrett looks like a bundle all wrapped up in that snowsuit, no wonder he was sweating in there! I am sure you were thrilled to get to experience that first with him. The other kiddos are just too cute and that comment about Sasha broke my heart too, I hope that he finds a home (that they all do). If you can smuggle him home in your suitcase I would love to be his mom, I can't believe that woman said that to him. Hope your bday tomorrow (today for you) is fantastic, it's your first bday in spent in Kaz!
Sam, Ryan, and Gabby

Kristen said...

It looks like the baby house has all new cribs and the infants are in a different room now. This is so cool to be able to follow along and see some changes. Also, this is a little freaky to me, but Sasha looks a LOT my son, Colin. Colin and Nicole just turned two, but I swear Colin will look just like Sasha a year from now. Take care!!

Kristen Appleyard