*This post was updated with photos and additional info after adoption
Today was our single-visit day (we only get to visit once on Sundays), so we made the most of our two hours with our little girl! She's doing better and better at eating, which is awesome. For the first week or two, we really struggled to get all of her lunch into her (keep in mind, lunch is the biggest meal of the day - bread, soup, meat, veggies, potatoes or pasta, and juice - it's a lot of food to stuff in a little person!). But now that we've gotten to know each other better, she's off to the races and is eating so well for us and we're loving it.
Our two-hour visits are going so quickly now! I guess that after 48 of them, we're well into the swing of things. We poke our heads into the room, she comes running over to us with arms open wide, and the hug-fest begins! For the next two hours we play with her doll or stacking cups, usually blow up a balloon and chase it around the room, and read a few books (a few dozen times each). We dance together to the digital jangle of the toys playing two lines of such favorites as: Auld Lang Syne, the theme from Titanic, Happy Birthday, Unchained Melody, Greensleeves, and many others we cannot place. We practice climbing the stairs if it's not a busy day in the baby house. And we just enjoy being together and getting to know one another.
Our single-visit day left us with plenty of time this afternoon for a special shopping trip! A few days ago we went to a little art exhibit with Oxana (admission - 70 tg for locals, 200 for foreigners. Oh well, it was a buck forty well spent). The featured artist was Oleg Drozdov (http://www.odrozd.com) the husband of one of the baby house doctors. We had admired his work hanging in the baby house, so Oxana took us to the exhibit so that we could see more.
We expressed an interest in purchasing a piece or two to bring home with us, so our hosts arranged for us to visit his studio to browse. It was so cool! We picked out a painting to hang over our mantel (the larger one he's holding) and then two smaller ones to give to Sestra someday. We are so grateful to have this little piece of Kazakhstan to bring home with us.
I have been fascinated with snow removal here in Karaganda. I admit it, I'm a little obsessed. My favorite part is that most of the residential snow removal is done using reed brooms (basically they look like bundles of sticks). This makes sense, since they don't seem to get more than an inch or two of snow at any given time, so it's easier to sweep away than to shovel. Actually, these brooms are also used indoors for a quick sweep-up instead of vacuuming - we saw the hotel staff at the Old Windmill use them often.
When shoveling, some folks use snow shovels like you find in the States, but most use either metal garden shovels or wooden home-made ones. Here's a photo of the snow removal equipment in the entrance of the Russian Orthodox church (Steve and Oxana just love it when I stop to take pictures of closets). Cool, eh?
And here's a picture of one of the caretakers clearing the plaza outside of the church. Wow, I wouldn't want to have to shovel that every day!
The streets are cleared using front-end loaders or an army of workers in orange vests with shovels. The snow is piled up along the side of the street and then a machine with a little conveyer belt comes along and scoops up the snow and deposits it into a dump truck. The snow is then trucked out of the city.
It's a very different system than we see in Utah - no giant snowplows, no salt on the roads, and the sidewalks are always snow-covered. But it works for Kazakhstan!
Prayer request: At the time of this posting, we only have 3 hours until court begins! Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes, and the same requests from yesterday remain - that our words would be wise, papers would be in order, and that the ones hearing and seeing both would recognize our love and capacity to provide for our daughter.