Anne:

Hi, everyone-- I'm glad to be back in the land of the living today!  It seems I don't have the iron-clad stomach I used to have.  Well, at least I definitely caught up on sleep-- I slept for most of the afternoon yesterday! 

Since I didn't post yesterday, I wanted to wish my mom and dad a belated happy 37th anniversary!  We love you and hope you celebrated well!

Well, we thought we might catch some of the presidential activities today but it seems his visit has been put off until tomorrow because "not everything is ready in the city yet."  So I guess we shouldn't be surprised if our court date is moved a day or two if they postpone presidential visits!  So after our visit today we had some lunch, then went with Inna to a little museum that they have in town on Kazakh culture and heritage.  It was cute-- we got a guided tour, which Inna translated for us, and got to see some interesting stuff.  They also had a "zoo" attached and they asked us if we wanted to see that.  We asked what was in the zoo and they said "some snakes and a monkey", so we passed on the zoo.

Tomorrow Dana, Tom and Jenny are leaving to go back to Almaty for a few days, then back to the States.  Inna and Oleg just found out yesterday that another couple is coming on August 25th, so maybe we'll still have some company!  In the meantime, we'll just have one more weekend to hang out and wait until our court date.  It's getting harder to leave the kids back at the hospital... they kind of look at us like, "Hey, where are you going?"  Just a few more days-- then they'll be stuck with us forever!

John:

Well, nice to have my wife back! I finished 'Kite Runner' yesterday afternoon while she crashed. Boy, what a good book! We watched 'Old School' on DVD, much funnier than I expected. We've watched several episodes of 'Sex in the City'. At first I thought it was very much a chick show, but it's gotten more interesting over time. Especially when Kim Catrell is topless.

The kids did well again today. I think maybe I've just gotten better. I can calm Daniel down pretty easily now, and recognize when he just needs to nap, then rock him to sleep. I was thinking today while he slept on my chest, how much I've learned by visiting just 2 hours per day for two weeks! I'm sure I'm in for a lot more when they move in, but at least I feel like I know where to start now!

Random thoughts: There sure are a lot of nice BMW's around here, and M3's and other M models are not uncommon. It stands out more because most of the cars are old and small. Maybe the M's are not the super high end model they are in the US, but rather a sporty engine only; I saw a few that looked pretty plain and with plain cloth interiors, but with an 'M' on the back. Or maybe they just buy the 'M' on the street and glue it on?

The streets here are just filled with huge holes and bumps. Drivers have memorized them; they weave in and out around the holes, even if they come to the other side of the street to do it! It is common to drive down the middle of the road over the middle dividing line, taking up both lanes until someone drives up behind you and honks to pass.

Manhole covers over the sewers are routinely left off the hole, so it's not unusual to see a big hole on the sidewalk or lawn. I'd be afraid of a little child falling in! But it only goes 1-2 feet down to the little ditches dug on each side of the street, so it's not like someone would get killed falling into the sewer! And when we all walked home in the dark a few nights ago, I noticed Inna walk around holes and posts which none of us could see in the dark! Must become ingrained after a while.

There are huge insulated metal ducts (?aluminum) about 1 1/2 to 2 feet in diameter that go for hundreds of feet from buildings, along sidewalks, then disappearing underground. Inna says these are for ventilation, but I can't imagine what needs to be vented so far from a building then buried underground! Sometimes they cross a sidewalk intersection, and they go up above and around you in an upside down 'U' so that you walk underneath them. Any help from our industrial engineer, Paul?

Sawyer's Controlled Release insect repellant is the best thing ever! I discovered this while camping in the past; it has 20% deet microencapsulated so that it is gradually released by body heat over 8 hours. Because of that, it hardly smells at all, less deet is exposed to your skin, and it lasts and lasts. That stuff is really improving my sleep and I'm hardly getting any mosquito bites any more!

Soapy water spray doesn't kill mosquitoes. But it makes them soggy and slow so they can be squashed more easily. I've gotten pretty good at hunting them down inside our apartment and squishing them until there were none left. But until the above mentioned Sawyer's, I'd still wake up with 2-3 new bites! I still like this option over the fumigator plug-ins that I've described before.

 

Playtime with Maya

Lim Boys Napping

Giggles for Everyone

Traditional Kazakh Musical Instruments

Wild Animals of the Region

Russian Medical Poster at the Children's Hospital