John:

Well, I feel a bit better today. Maybe yesterday's ranting helped. Plus we're starting to pack for our return trip! Interestingly, my rant from yesterday was a favorite of some others who have made this trip! I thought it would be helpful today to think about the good. Maya is sitting up by herself, a great thing, since adopted kids are supposed to be a few months delayed and she is right on target! Daniel sits up with the help of my lap. Maya scoots around the floor like a speed demon! We had to put up barricades to keep her in the living room. She spent an hour trying to go under, around, or right through the newly discovered barriers! Both cry for us and smile with recognition, which means they are bonding well - another common problem with adoptions. (Ok, the crying itself isn't so great!) they are the best reminders of why we are here! Hopefully I'm not jinxing us, but our health has been fairly good the whole trip; even Anne's ankle incident could have been much worse. The people who have helped us have been all excellent; so far no big crises. The food, while not especially varied, has been mostly very good. We tried some mustard yesterday on the sausage, and it's really good! Must be the German influence. I'll really miss the kabobs at the Rainbow. In fact the new couple in town, Paul and Amy, have invited us out for one last night of kabobs tomorrow! How could we say no? I really don't HAVE to read the words to 'That's Not My Puppy' if I don't feel like it. They'd be as intrigued if I asked them to ponder a Zen koan. Our friend Angela says she used to read Harry Potter to her daughter Claire at bedtime, in fact she'd read to her for hours after her daughter fell asleep! I wonder if she got to read the most recent book on her trip last week?

Regarding our trip back home, here's the plan: we leave Kokshetau on Wednesday afternoon with two 8 month old infants, there is no checking of luggage on the first leg to Almaty- it's all carry on. Plus the plane is an old Soviet 'Yak', whatever that is. We're told it's very safe, but it's a little propeller plane. We'll spend a few days in Almaty to do a physical and some other official stuff, like getting visas. Then for our final trip home, the flight leaves at 2:55am on Saturday (Friday night) to Frankfurt for a 7-8 hour flight, a 3-4 hour layover, then our final 7-8 hour flight to Chicago! I can hardly think about it without getting anxious. But everyone else has done it, plus we'll finally be home! I'm convinced Daniel's crying and fussing, and Maya's wailing before falling asleep will all magically stop during this trip because they'll realize the importance of it!

Anne:

Yes, it's true-- we've discovered the delicious irony of bonding.  As they begin to see you as parents and not just caregivers, they figure out how they can get what they want!  They each have their own ways of accomplishing this!  But the rewards are many-- their sweet smiles when they see us coming to get them up from their naps, Maya's new habit of wrapping her little arms around my neck, Daniel's slow but steady progress in his strength and coordination.  We're so excited to bring our little munchkins home!

I was thinking today about our little accomplishments every day.  I mean, our big accomplishments have been successfully adopting two beautiful children, living and for the most part thriving in a foreign country for six weeks, and still having an intact marriage to show for it!  But sometimes you need the motivation of little successes to get you through a day.  Take for example:

--- Letting go of our intelligentsia and truly relaxing.  Example:  We have made it through four whole seasons of "Sex and the City" and have watched NONE of the lecture series on Islam that we brought along.

--- Have managed to keep the kids dressed in clean, long-sleeved outfits after it became autumn in the span of 24 hours

--- Have showered nearly every day.  Some days even put on makeup (Anne only).

--- Have eaten and enjoyed culinary experiments on a daily basis.

--- Kept alive all the houseplants in the apartment.

--- Mastered numbers 1 through 10 in Russian-- useful for shopping when combined with pointing.

--- Lit antique gas stove daily without any significant burns.

--- Kept track of the day and date.  Sometimes the computer had to prompt us.

--- Calculated drying times for onesies versus sleepers versus socks.  (Socks the longest-- 3-4 days).

--- Developed new inflections and accents with which to read same four children's books.

OK, enough for now.  Miss you all!

Daniel instructs parents in how to baby proof after arriving home

The "Maya-cade"...  the only way to keep her from cruising out of the living room!

World Wide Baby Wrestling-- even Daniel loves to squish those cheeks!