Monday, January 29, 2007

Party, party

Veeka has already made the social scene here in swinging Kostenai by putting in an appearance last night at not one, but two peoples' homes where she charmed everyone with her love of music, dancing and stuffed toys. The aforementioned Madina, who has a passle of Kazakh relatives in town, has been so helpful! I called her yesterday (Sunday) to say I was going stir-crazy in the hotel and did she want to do something?
Well, she arrived in a taxi driven by Dimas, a *very* handsome Russian who scooted us to some strange apartment building way north of Kostenai where we hopped out and zipped up a smelly stairwell to a very nice apartment (this country has NO elevators, it seems and so I am always hauling this child up 4-5 flights of steps)where Madina's sister, Nazee-gul (means "gentle flower" in Kazakh) dished us up salad and meat and cake - well, Veeka snarfed down everything she could get her little mits on. I could not believe how she was packing away huge quantities of rice, corn and whatever candy she could grab off the table. She's also into dairy products big time - loves cheese and yogurt. Anyway, she also managed to talk Sasha, Nazeel-gul's Russian husband, out of a green stuffed bunny.
Stuffed bunny in hand, we then got back in the taxi and zoomed to Madina's place where her 11-year-old son, Jangeldy - who is a national judo champ for his age category - and Madina poured more food, ie gummies into the Little One. Veeka bounced around and talked Jangeldy out of one of his stuffed toys as well - it plays music. You should see how this kid adores any tune at all. Every time I take her to the local supermarket, she starts swaying and smiling to the muzak. The clerks get the biggest kick out of her. So today I went to a used CD place and got some New Age music and some classical. Need to prep her for that harp.
I do however need to teach her some discernment. The trashiest English-language MTV videos get played everywhere here and she loves to watch them all. This morning while eating breakfast in the hotel cafe, we got to watch Pink Floyd's "I Don't Want No Education;" - over the top, I thought.
Sunday morning we also went out to visit a small evangelical church south of town. Veeka let it be known she would implode after 2 hours - in fact as the sermon dragged, she got restless. So I took her into the church office where I saw some really interesting evangelistic literature, including a child's Kazakh Bible. A lot of the evangelical Christian stuff gets printed in Germany, then shipped here. For you historians, remember Stalin exiled a lot of Germans to Kazakhstan way back when. Finally, circa 1989-91, they were permitted to leave the country and go back to Germany, which most of them did. You can still see remnants of Germany culture here - several restaurants; buses with German signs on them but most of the Germans are gone.
Things are going well. Saturday night, we sat down for a mother-daughter movie night, courtesy of a DVD someone loaned me to play on my laptop. So she sat there with her apple juice and me with my hot tea and we watched "Finding Neverland" or "Leaving Neverland" whatever the name of that movie starring Dustin Hoffman was. Tonight, we'll watch "Princess Bride."
Oops - she is starting to is very tough, like I said, to get her in a long enough nap in her stroller to allow me to come here. Today, after going to the local mall to get her some PJs (she wet the only pair we had last night), I brought her here but instead of going to sleep in the nice, warm Internet cafe, she started to screech. So I finally took her for a walk in the 35-degree weather and she dozed off. Go figure.
For those of you having difficulties posting comments, I am sorry - is being ornery with me as well. Am trying to solve these difficulties.
Am enclosing 2 photos - one of our interpreter Valentin admiring a belly dancer we saw at a restaurant a week ago. The other is of Yulia - the cute 3-year-old who was dumped at the orphanage was well. Yulia has spina bifida so she cannot walk - her legs are folded under her so barring a miracle, she is confined to a wheelchair for life. But she's the sweetest thing - very smart and talkative - and she's shut in with the mentally ill kids cuz she's been assigned to the disabled wing. But from the waist up, she's great! I've included a photo of her so that if any of you know someone with a heart for adopting a disabled orphan, let me know and I will send you more details. The orphanage director said she'd be happy to put Yulia's name on the registery...she had given up hope of finding anyone who'd take her.
Veeka is stirring...Auf Wiedersehn!


cheryl wetzstein said...

Thanks for yet another wild update about West meeting "East?"

I thought Yulia's picture was lovely.

Allison B. said...

Hi Julia!

I am just joining your adventure now... How exciting!

Our Charlie is also 20 months old so we can compare notes :-) It is too bad you live so far away- playdates would be fun! This is definitely a fun stage as toddlers explore their world and show off their individuality. I think Curious George was modeled after a toddler! And how lucky you are with the early potty training-- REALLY!! It sounds like she will bulk up quickly with all the new foods she is loving (I think Charlie is about 26 pounds).

Incidentally, there is a Russian family who was sponsored by our church to come here over 15 years ago. One of their daughters is Victoria- and she also goes by "Vicka." An uncommon yet very pretty name.

Our prayers will be with both of you. By the way, if you can get ahold of some, you may want to give Veeka some Benadryl or Dramamine on the flight home to help her sleep part of the time away. It is hard for these little ones to sit still very long (as you experienced in church) and it can make for a difficult time on the way home for you as well as nearby passengers... I also suggest packing lots of little activities (entertainment value 5-10 minutes each) for her to engage in on the plane. As you have recognized, sensory stuff is great. I remember Cassie loved plastic Easter eggs filled with different things... marshmallows, coins, etc. Got a DVD for the ride home?? I hope my unsolicited advice is helpful!

How long is your flight back to the US?

Allison Burkhow

Constance Aspinall said...

Hi Julia,
I've been following you every day and so enjoy reading and seeing pictures of little Veeka.
Your Mom and Dad are so proud of you! Your Mother is ready to hop on a plane to see you and Veeka, so after she arrives you will get chance to catch up on your mail and a little sleep too.
I think what you have done all by yourself is remarkable, I wish only the very best, you are going to be a wonderful Mother, what a lucky little girl Veeka is !

Connie Russell Aspinall

casey ellis said...

Julia: When you are stocking up on little toys to amuse V on the plane, look for some version of Colorforms. Do you remember those from your youth? They're thick plastic (not paper) stickers in various bright colors and shapes and can be peeled off surfaces and used over and over. My kids loved sticking them on the plane window/tray table/Mommy's arm, etc.