Sunday, May 29

First day

After a confusing night in a completely different time zone/hemisphere, Marina woke up (at 3 a.m.) and was ready for action. Once the rest of the world caught up with us, we went out shoppin' for baby items. We found out that there are actually quite a few baby items for sale.

Marina liked this new hat.

Friday, May 27

Back at last

We made it - after around 48 hours with no sleep, 15 hours in
airplanes, and thousands of miles. Marina is sleeping in her crib, the
cats are a little spooked, and we're tired. But glad to be back.

Thursday, May 26

Heading home

This afternoon we'll be visiting the U.S. embassy to take care of the
final bit of paperwork necessary to make Marina an American citizen.
Late tonight, actually very early tomorrow morning, we'll board a
Lufthansa flight for home. We'll arrive back at Dulles around 1:30 pm
Friday.

We can't wait to see everyone, and Marina is looking forward to meeting you.

Friday, May 20

Almaty

We made it to the "Grand Hotel Ai-Ser" in Almaty. All three of us are
doing well. Marina had a good time during the trip, looking around at
all of the people. She's back on something of a schedule in our hotel
room now, sleeping through the night and eating like a champ.

Right now I'm sitting at the "Troy Internet Cafe" in a mall not too
far from the hotel. Almaty is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city with
just about anything you might need. Yesterday our translator took some
of us to buy strollers at the main bazaar. It was a huge building
filled with stalls selling everything from blue jeans to stiff fish.
We passed on the stiff fish, but I think the stroller is going to work
out. Marina loves it, so long as it keeps moving.

It looks like we'll probably be leaving Kazakhstan early next Friday
morning, but we're hoping we might be done a day or two earlier.

Tuesday, May 17

Heading toward the future

We're packing right now, getting ready for the trip to Almaty tomorrow. We should be there for 7-10 days while all of the necessary paperwork is completed for Marina to exit Kaz. and enter the U.S.

It's going to be a huge adventure for all of us. Just the van ride to the airport will be one of the biggest things that's ever happened to Marina, not to mention everything that comes after that. I like to think that in this picture Marina is looking toward the future, imagining life as it's going to be and thinking, "I'm ready."

Either that, or she's looking at that tricycle again.

Ust again

Here's the view from the top floor of our hotel. If you're into Soviet architecture, this is the place for you.

The scenery is actually pretty nice. Lots of trees, low mountains in most directions, two rivers. Also, smokestacks.

Cups, begone!

A couple things are going on here.

First, I didn't realize how much babies HATE to see stacking cups stacked up. If you build a pile of stacking cups, they will crawl across a room to knock them down. They evidently do not like the order represented by neatly stacked cups.

Second, this is one of my favorite expressions so far. I am sure we will see this face again when she is about 13 or 14.

Happy

I'm not sure how Anne got this shot. Marina has an uncanny ability to look away from the camera just as you're about to push the button.

Go Torps!

The hockey building, home of the mighty Ust-Kamenogorsk Torpedoes!

Ust

Here's the approach to the main bridge over the river. Some of the busses, like this red one, seem to be surplus from Sweeden. They still have destination signage for places like "Stockholm" and "Centrum."

The yellow building in the background is typical. They make up much of the town. Apartments above, stores below.

Going for a ride

Marina really digs these wheels. We push her around, and as soon as we stop, she gets upset. We have to distract her to put the trike away.

Binky

Baby's pal. Also a hat is nice.

Whew.

I don't think Marina was used to getting so much exercise before we showed up. Toward the end of our playtimes she gets tired. But she stays cute!

Playtime

Here's the room where Marina entertained us most days.

Hats!

Most days the caregivers would dress Marina in one of several hats. We saw this one a lot. It was too big for her so we folded it back. She didn't seem to mind.

It's official

We went to court yesterday and again today - turned out to be a two-step process. But everything worked out OK. The adoption petition was approved, and we're leaving Ust on Wednesday morning for Almaty. This afternoon we received the adoption certificate and a new birth certificate listing us as the mother and father.

Wednesday, May 11

Behind the wheel

Everything's still going fine over here. Alan's been sick for about a week, which isn't fun - probably a bad case of the same cold Marina has. But overall, we're OK.

Tuesday, May 3

Looking at mom, holding on to dad

Sorry for the lack of posts - we've been having a bit o' trouble uploading pictures. But here's Marina again, looking cute.

Monday, May 2

Marina Josephine

Marina Josephine

Marina is happy and busy. She laughs, crawls, rolls around, reaches
for toys, and likes to chew on things (there are four little teeth
coming in on top and two already on the bottom).

We visit for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in
the afternoon. All three of us are worn out when we're done!

We're happy with how well everything is going, and we're feeling pretty lucky.