John:

Our first day in the new apartment went fine, with only small hurdles. First, some Russian speaking woman kept calling. I ignored the phone twice, but on the third time, finally answered. After an earful of Russian, all I could think of to respond was 'Angliske?' (English?). She paused, then berated me some more in Russian, so I hung up on her. I thought that should take care of it, but about a half hour later, someone came ringing the doorbell - 3-4 times quickly and fairly insistently. We were told to not answer the door except for Inna our interpreter and Oleg our driver, so we ignored it. A little later, someone came pounding on our door. We ignored it again, but thought, what if there was a big fire or gas leak, and someone was warning us? We looked outside, saw no one else looking very worried, so ignored it again. When we left later for our evening walk, there was a bill on the floor outside the door. Apparently someone was rather irate about not getting paid for something! We hope they realize we have nothing to do with that debt! Today we gave the bill to Oleg, who was the one who had arranged for this apartment. He said to not worry about it; if the phone rings again tonight, just unplug the phone and take a nap!

The other slight problem is that somehow mosquitoes get into the place like no one's business! We were warned of this by other friends who have traveled here. We know of others' kids who have been bitten up and down by the darn things overnight while sleeping. When we had our tour of the place, Oleg showed us a plug-in fumigator which was covered with a layer of black soot in the bedroom. He said to plug it in half an hour before going to bed. I asked if this chased the mosquitoes away, or if it killed them. (In other words, how toxic is this stuff? Will it kill me, or just give me a carcinoma?) Inna said the mosquitoes 'would go to sleep'. And then we would be able to sleep in peace. We decided to forego the fumigator, but I passed my time last night squishing mosquitoes on the wall and ceiling of the living room and entry way. We kept the door to the bedroom closed to the rest of the house where they seemed to enter from, and didn't see any skeeters when we went to bed. The next morning I only had 1 new bite, and 3-4 from the evening before. Anne had zero. I think my blood is sweeter than hers.

The one other thing about the new apartment is no more huge breakfast buffet! It's back the usual cereal and yoghurt, like at home. Oh well, c'est la vie!

We continue to have good visits with the kids. But we've noticed that they've gotten a bit more demanding as they've gotten to know us! We think they're realizing there's people who will respond when they complain. Nothing serious, just crankiness when we leave them alone or stop holding them. Hopefully this is just a good sign of bonding! We had another nice weather day, so another day of walking outside the hospital.

After visiting the kids, we shopped a bit for some basic items like ketchup (we had a choice of five, including garlic, mixed veggies, and salsa, I went with as plain as possible) and toilet paper. But I also realized how short I was on shirts.  Since we were told to pack as lightly as possible, I may have taken this too much to heart. So we went looking for some shirts for me with our interpreter-fashion model Inna. Boy, she knew right where to go, and had some good ideas about what to buy. We put a picture of her helping me shop for clothes below. She said that was a lot of fun! We're having a rest this afternoon, then plan to walk to our friend Dana's apartment to visit for a while before we go to Rainbow restaurant, where they are said to have the best sashslich (shish-kebobs) in town!  

Well, enough words. Here' more pics. I've given up on video for the moment until I can get a good connection in the new apartment.

Anne:

Hi, everyone!  First of all, I would like you to notice the picture of John shopping for shirts with Inna.  Yes, the gorgeous, black-haired, leggy twenty-three year old is our interpreter!  I think it is John's favorite time of the day when she comes walking up in the morning, just to see what she is wearing!  You can see why an old lady like me might feel a little frumpy in this country!

We had our first meeting with Dr. Vittoria today, who is in charge of the children's hospital where the kids are living.  She told us a little bit about their birth history and their health since they have been born.  I'm not going to say too much about it here until we have our court day, but let's just say that their "history" would probably sound pretty scary if a.) we were not prepped very well for this by our agency and b.) we couldn't see from a personal and professional perspective that they are very healthy.  As I've mentioned once before, the only real delay we can see is that Daniel is not sitting up yet.  Maya sits briefly on her own.  They both roll over, creep, and talk up a storm!  I'm guessing that Daniel will be starting to sit up more by the time we get him home.  We did find out that these were the first births for both of the birth mothers and that they terminated their parental rights when the kids were born.  We're hoping maybe we can learn a little more when we meet with Dr. Natalia, who runs the maternity hospital where they were born.

Well, I'm going to lay down for a rest before our shish kebob dinner tonight and hope my stomach continues to hold out.  I've got a little gastro thing going, nothing serious, but stuck to chicken soup and and mashed potatoes for lunch.  John had marinated lamb and these fried potato things-- that was definitely not going to happen!  We also have a well-stocked fridge after yesterday's big shopping trip.  John was like a kid in a candy shop-- he is definitely grooving on the food here!

I hope all of you are doing well-- love to all!

Breakfast: Plastic Bag o' Milk, Corn Flakes, and Muesli

Anne's greatest hardship of this trip: Instant Coffee. She can only stand it if doused with sugar and plastic bag o' milk!

Cat leaving our entryway with us.

Entrance to baby hospital. This is what we see every morning before seeing the kids!

Daniel, budding audiophile? He definitely is drawn to the gadgets in the room! What could it mean?

Maya snoozing in my arms. We've found that she HAS to be upright while dosing off, otherwise she's very cranky. Daniel HAS to be reclining, otherwise he's very cranky falling asleep. Picky, aren't they? Or is this normal? *Corrected-thanks Mom J!*

Typical Daniel pose. Chewing on mommy's hair, looking up with curiosity!

Inna helping me be more fashionable at the local 'Zoom' mall. I just noticed Anne in the mirror to the right, taking the picture!