*This post was updated with photos and additional info after adoption
Our third day of bonding was as great as the others have been. Today we got to chat with the head of the baby house and she gave us as much info as she has on Sasha's medical and family history as well as all of her measurements and vaccinations since she arrived at the baby house. It's nice to be able to piece together even itty bitty pieces of her past; we really feel that we owe her as much info as we can discover about her life in Kazakhstan. Oh, and she says that Sash is bossy and the queen of her group! Hey, you have to have some spunk to make it in a baby house :)
Our fondest memory from today was Sasha happily chatting away to an Altoids tin. We use an Altoids tin as a camera case and she saw it sitting out and immediately walked over, held it to her ear, and started babbling merrily away! I guess that anything will work as a cell phone for this kiddo.
We thought we'd take a sec to catch you up on our around-the-world-in-a-day (literally!) trip to Kazakhstan.
We left Utah at 2 pm on Sunday afternoon and Steve was able to arrange a fantastic flight schedule for our trip to Kaz (well, as fantastic as any 24-hour schedule could be). We flew from Salt Lake to Denver and then from Denver we were able to fly Lufthansa all the way to Frankfurt, Germany with only a two-hour layover. The flight was fine, although our in-flight entertainment (the cool kind on the back of the seat) broke about a third of the way through the flight. Lame. Oh well, at least Steve and I were able to see all of Ghost Town with Ricky Geravis (pretty funny, add it to your queue) before the entertainment went belly up.
Other than that, the flight was smooth and easy. We had a two hour layover in Frankfurt and then flew from Frankfurt to Almaty, KZ with a stop in Astana. We landed in Almaty at 2 am local time, almost exactly 24 hours after leaving Utah!
Needless to say, we were pretty bleary-eyed after such a day, and the drivers from our agency picked us up at the airport and took us to a hotel for a few hours of shut eye. We met with our agency reps in Kazakhstan in the morning and signed some more paperwork and then we hung out in the mall for a few hours until it was time to go to the airport again to catch our regional flight. The mall was pretty cool (although 4 hours there was a bit much, but we had already checked out of our hotel and at least it was warm) - the neatest part was the little indoor ice rink where 4 or 5 little girls were having their figure skating lessons with coaches and all. We got to see a couple of them do their routines with music and coaches barking orders and stopping the music when they messed up. It was all very Blades of Glory except cuter and without John Heder.
I am very proud to say that we checked our baggage on the regional flight without paying any extra baggage charges! Yep, we actually succeeded in traveling to Kazakhstan for a 7 week trip on a combined 88 lbs of luggage. I guess that sounds like a lot, but you have to consider all of the baby clothes, baby toys, just-in-case medications, snow gear, and gifts we were carrying. It is no small miracle that we made it in under the weight limit.
We landed at around 10 pm and were met by our driver and interpreter. They took us to our hotel to crash for the night, and the next morning we started our visits with Sestra! Somebody posted a comment to our blog likening those first few days to a conveyer belt ride, and they are exactly right - you really have no idea where you're going, you just take a ride, get dropped off somewhere, wait for a while, get picked up again, and go for another ride! Needless to say, we are grateful that the conveyer belt dropped us right here with our daughter and we're enjoying a slower pace of life and travel now that we're in the bonding period routine.
Steve and I are blessed with two lovely travel partners from St. Louis who are getting to know their first child, a son. It's been so nice to have somebody to chat with and commiserate with when things are tough and rejoice with when all is going well! They just moved out of the hotel last night into the apartment they'll stay in for the rest of the trip, but hopefully our apartments are close to each other so we can still visit. We're still in the hotel because our apartment isn't ready yet. We're looking forward to getting into a permanent place, but for now we'll enjoy the big comfy (well, very firm, but still comfy) bed and breakfast prepared for us each morning.