So first to respond to some comments. The orphanage we are in is named Shapagat. This is the Kazakh name for the Mylutka orphanage. Mylutka is the Russian name for it. I’m sure I’m butchering the spelling, though. Ava’s middle name is pronounced uh-seel in case you are curious. Also, we’ve deleted a few comments that had our last name in it. As hard as it is to believe with all the info we’re posting, we are trying to maintain a little bit of anonymity. So please don’t be offended if your post got the axe. Olga verified for me we are in a good neighborhood, in almost the center of town. In fact she said that there is really only one district where you wouldn’t want to walk at night. The other 2 American families we came with are in the same cluster of buildings that we are in, and I believe the 3 Spanish families are too. Our clothes dryer doesn’t so much dry the clothes as it does make it really hot and wet, so we have clothes hanging out to dry like a regular Kazakh family.
The baby house itself is wonderful. It is amazingly clean. The room that Ava is in has 10 cribs, an attached little kitchen, a bathroom with 4 or 5 sinks, and an attached playroom. We always see at least 2 caregivers in there, who seem to truly care about the babies. There are at least 6 other clusters of rooms that have a similar set up with groups of babies or toddlers. They don’t have children older than 5. At that age they go to another orphanage until they are 16 or 17. There is clean laundry drying everywhere, but I imagine that helps them maintain the high standard of cleanliness. You smell no dirty diapers anywhere. It’s almost odorless except for baby wipes and food (when it’s cooking). The standard of care they get there is excellent and helps us feel a little better about leaving her for a few weeks (though I’m already dreading that day). One day when we went to our play room, there was a group of kids from 2-4ish leaving the room. They were all so beautiful. I wish we could take all of them home. They all seemed happy though, which was nice. I really cannot say enough good things about the baby house. They do maintain a wonderful standard of care.
We’ve fed our Ava 4 times now. She gets a big bowl of baby rice cereal with little bits of bread mixed in at times. Then she gets formula or tea that seems to have honey or sugar in it. She loves to eat. We’re getting better at helping her too. I think she eats faster than me! And with the tea she drinks, she’s already imitating her daddy’s caffeine addiction.
We got some tepid water today in the shower. It was clear too! It was very exciting. I already miss taking a hot shower. I think the best we will do is a warm one. The shower isn’t really a shower either. It is a tub with a hand held sprayer, with very minimal water pressure. Attempting to wash up is quite the arduous and chilly task.
The heat still isn’t on, but we have a little electric radiant space heater, and the apartment has actually stayed pretty warm. Yesterday I videoed the drive to the baby house, as well as us going to Ava’s room, and then taped the drive back. The driver actually drove more reservedly than he had been though. No near death experiences to record at all. I think he was doing it so I could get steadier film. His name is Kairat and he’s a very nice guy and has even helped me with some of my Russian. After recording, Amber and I were wondering if anyone else is going to find things like the drive as interesting as we do. I’m sure Ava will when she gets older though, and that’s who this is all about.
Then today since we can’t see our Ava (much sadness), we went sightseeing. We actually went all around the city and took about 175 pictures. We went to Maternity House #2 where Ava and Julia were born, and then to Maternity House #4 where Oliver was born. Here’s Ava’s birthplace.
We also saw from a distance the coal mines and a coal factory where they generate the heat and electricity for the city. It was a little hazy so we didn’t get great pictures. We got pictures of their football (soccer) stadium, and we stopped at a Mosque and a Russian Orthodox Church. We then stopped at a Muslim cemetery which was very different from your ordinary American fare. Each structure you see is for a person or 2. The headstones are very ornate, with pictures etched in stone of the deceased; the vegetation is very overgrown and the roads are unmaintained, but some of the structures are made entirely of granite or marble.
We then went to what Olga called the ‘fake lake’. It is a lake on the edge of the city which is actually a filled in coal strip mine. If I understood right, they use it for their steam heat. Most of their water comes from underground aquifers as it is very dry here.
Sorry for the low Ava content of my post. Amber will be doing one of these later, and I’m just trying to keep my mind off of my baby since I can’t see her today.