John:

One and a half days and counting! It's really hard to believe! We ran around today and saw the lawyers for more paperwork, then a visit to the medical clinic for an official checkup. It's kind of funny because during the initial visits then at court, we were told to make it sound as bad as possible so that it sounds like 'who would want to adopt these horribly sick kids, give them to the Americans.' We were told verbally and made to sign an affidavit stating that we were aware of several pretty severe sounding illnesses. At this visit, the doctor asked if we were aware of any medical problems. We said, 'well there's all that official stuff we were told about, like that intracranial hemorrhage that they both had, should we list them all?' He gave us a funny look then said, 'no just anything you might have noticed while you've had them. Just routine, to get through all the bureaucracy. When you get home, of course, you'll want to have a full doctor's visit. So they're pretty healthy, then?' 'Yes' 'Okay, then,' he replied, as he started checking off a long series of boxes. To his credit, he did do a full physical exam; we've heard from others that sometimes they're eyeballed up and down while fully dressed, and that's it! The doctor was British, and the funny thing is, although he spoke English, we had some trouble understanding his British English! 'Okay, you can go ahead and redo her nappies, then.' 'Huh?' 'Her nappies, go ahead and close them', he said, while pointing to Maya's diapers. 'Oooh, her "nappies", okay then!'

Later while still at the clinic, I ran into a man who was clearly American and chatted a bit while we waited for some paperwork. He was at the clinic with his two young kids and an Asian woman. He had a pony tail, beard, and clean but purposely disheveled appearance; a little hippie, a little artsy. He had a t-shirt that said 'Why, What, Where, How come? Just Kaz!' Ha ha! Get it? I assumed they were doing the same thing that we were, but it turns out he's from Virginia and lives in Kazakhstan now. He teaches English theatre, and directs the local theatre. He's been here for 6 years, is married to a Kazakh woman, and has the two little kids now. I'd love to have heard more about how he came to Kaz, but his wife said something to him while looking a little irritated, and he suddenly had to leave! He shook my hand goodbye and wished me luck. Funny how that works! My part time office manager (and mother of two college aged kids) Adrienne emailed me today and said, 'remember what I told you when you got married.  Learn  "Yes, Dear."  Now when the children get a little bigger, it will be "Where's your Mother? Wait and see" Could this be true?

Oh, one last thing. This apartment is soooo much nicer than the previous one! But perhaps the best thing is, no mosquitoes! I'm so thrilled! But there ARE these aggressive flies that fly Kamikaze right into your head, buzz around your face, and crash into your limbs for no apparent reason. Once again, Anne has been spared these insect attacks. I think her camping background has somehow made her more at one with nature!

Anne:

Hi, all-- it's so hard to believe that at this time tomorrow night we'll be packing and waiting to be picked up around midnight for the airport!  It was a busy day but not too taxing.  The lawyer's office and doctor's appointment was fine.  Tomorrow we go to the embassy, do more paperwork, and get their passports.  We're also hoping to be able to meet with the lead driver who sells Kazakh handicrafts-- and then see if we actually have room to bring anything home!  After all of our appointments today we went to the Ramstore, which is sort of an Almaty grocery/department/liquor/whatever you need store.  We got food for babies and parents that should last until we leave.  We're surrounded by hip-looking cafes and restaurants that look like a lot of fun-- but maybe not with two babies!  So begins our parenting life!  We did go for a walk this evening through the neighborhood, though.  In addition to the hip cafes there are movie theaters, upscale stores, a university and a park. Oh yeah, and we saw a pug for the first time on our trip!  (Only two more days 'til we get to see Ginger and Ollie!) Maybe tomorrow we'll get to walk the other direction and find the cathedral.  The kids have been real troopers, even being off schedule.  This afternoon they took a three hour nap!  And I took a 2 hour nap crashed out on the white vinyl couch.

So the countdown begins... we can't wait to see you all!

Maya enjoys lunch

Daniel loves his new toy! (We had to take out the batteries that allowed the lights and music!)

The view from our window

The mountains were in the clouds today

A nearby monument (don't know who he is!)

Now playing at the local theater... (we're so proud of our American exports!)