Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Gawbewies! I wanna pick ga gawbewy! I wike ga gawbewies!
As quickly as things change in todderland, Sasha's love for strawberries remains constant.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Summer Vacation

My Summer Vacation
by Sam

During my summer vacation I've been working on electronic projects. I've made power regulators, I've made light shows, I've even used a dip switch. My favorite thing I've made, though, is a POV (Persistence of Vision).

A POV is basically a bunch of LEDs that when you wave your hand while holding it it makes either words or drawings. The lights pulse so that when it's moving really fast it makes a display. Persistence of Vision is sometimes used in clocks, but we are going to put ours on our ceiling fan [editor's note: so that when the fan whirls around, you can read "Sam and Ben's Room" all night every night].

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cultural Sensitivity(?)

I can't decide... is it sweet and sort of culturally sensitive that I insisted on a Mulan Polly Pocket set for Mei Mei to compliment Sasha's Minnie Mouse set... or is it just kind of creepy and weird? Our multi-ethnic family preparation started with Sash and although we didn't end up being an obvious adoptive family with her (remember, we initially assumed she would be Kazakh), the lessons have stayed with us. I'm determined not to have a house full of blue-eyed, blond-haired baby dolls, and planning for Mei Mei has put new zeal in the pursuit.

I figure, at worst Mei Mei couldn't care less and at best she'll appreciate having some dolls and toys that look like her. And I guess that this whole discussion presupposes that Sasha won't have dismembered Mulan and lost all of her accessories within the next 6 or 9 months. Unlikely.

I am bound and determined however to pick up an adoptive mama Barbie doll from China. Admittedly my enthusiasm is prompted more by the clear hilariousness of the toy than by my cultural sensitivities.

More Kazlings!

The day after returning from our informal Karaganda reunion, our homestudy agency, the fabulous Families for Children, hosted a Kazakhstan adoptive families picnic up in Parley's Canyon.

It was our first time meeting so many local parents who have adopted from Kazakhstan, and the best part was meeting quite a few adoptive kids who are now in their teens. I know it probably sounds silly, but it was reassuring to see those teens and tweens paling around and playing soccer and doing normal teen stuff (if the words normal and teen can be used in the same sentence)... just a good reminder that adoption, although an important part of these kiddos' identities, doesn't always dominate every aspect of life. And it was good for the soul to be around other families who understand the acronyms and the struggles and the joys of being an adoptive, multi-ethnic family.

A fitting end to a Kaz-tastic week!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ye Olde Time Family

I know that I said I was done blogging about Florida... but that was a horrible mistake because I forgot about our olde time family portraits!

We celebrated Steve's mom's birthday while in Florida and treated her to a family picture at the wild west/saloon/civil war portrait studio. It was great! Everybody had a blast... except for Sasha, who refused to wear her hoop skirt, refused to wear a hat (you wouldn't want to cover over that awesome haircut!) and refused to smile. Although, to be fair, we were supposed to be serious in the pictures so her grim expression is on-theme.

But now when she looks at the pictures she fawns over her princess dress, so I don't think that any permanent olde-time-charm damage was done. And the boys totally rocked their cowboy outfits, except for the minor scuffle over who got the rifle and who got the shotgun, but I guess gun envy was on-theme as well.

And, yes, we all did enjoy the irony of traveling from Utah to Florida to take wild west photos.

While waiting for our photos we enjoyed some olde time go-kart races. I was a little worried about Sash and the noise of the karts (she doesn't like loud, rumbly noises) but she loved it and demanded "more more more!" when we were done our race.
Ok, now my documentation of our Florida adventures is complete :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Goodbye, Disney World

I'm thinking that a full week of posts about our Florida adventures is pushing it, so I'll combine the last 2 days into one chock-full-of-fun post.

Here's our mini-golf experience in the fewest words possible: hot, Sasha cheated (a lot), boys had trouble with high-sticking, boys loved holes with squirt-gun traps, lots of fun.
Our last stop in the Florida-Kazakhstan adventure was the Typhoon Lagoon water park. Man, do I love water parks. I'm so glad my whole family feels the same way!

Ben was ready to go swim before we even purchased our tickets!

Sash loved it all - and her haircut doesn't look quite so rediculous when it's wet, right? (just let me live in my delusions)

The wave pool was a total blast. Ben loved being thrown over the waves (he's the dot wearing a blue lifevest), while Sam preferred to be carried by them - needless to say, we all got a workout!

One last hurrah with the Beasleys

We had a fantastic time hanging out in Florida with such wonderful families. A week definitely wasn't long enough - who's planning next year's reunion?!?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Magic Kingdom

The Kazlings invaded The Magic Kingdom on Monday and it sure did live up to its name. We had a fantastic day - so great, in fact, that we didn't get back to our hotel room until 1 am! Now that's how you make the most of your park admission. Of course, the next day we were useless for anything but lounging at the pool and Sasha took a 4 hour nap, but that's a small price to pay for all that magic.

We waited online to visit with Mickey Mouse, which didn't disappoint in entertainment value. Sasha hated it. I mean, we're talking screaming kicking angry terror. The picture really doesn't do the experience justice, although if you click on it and zoom in on Sasha's face you can get a little taste of her displeasure. Here's how she describes it:
Big Micky Mouse wewy wewy scawy. My cwy. My say, "aaaah" like dat.

Of course, now she'll tell you that Mickey Mouse is really nice, as long as it's a little Mickey Mouse, so the damage wasn't permanent.

My highlight was taking Sasha to visit the princesses. Talk about something I never (ever!) imagined doing! Steve joined the line just as we were about to walk in and I think was a little overwhelmed by the daughter in Cinderella dress, wife crying over daughter in Cinderella dress, surrounded by hundreds of other daughters in princess dresses but to his credit he stuck it out and even took pictures. I think the fact that the room was air conditioned didn't hurt.

When we first walked into the majesty of the princess visiting area and Sasha saw those lovely ladies in poofy dresses, she completely freaked out (I no like it! I no like it!). You'll notice this theme of terror when Sasha meets Disney characters in real life. Put Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) completely charmed Sasha and has earned my eternal gratitude for convincing my daughter that princesses are not "wewy wewy scawy." By the time we met the third princess in the line Sash even gave Belle a hug! And, again, Mommy cried.

In stark contrast with Mommy's favorite part of the day, Daddy's warmest memory is of the moving, talking, interactive trash can. I am not making this up. This is Disney Magic to my husband. In his defense, though, the trash can was really funny. Sam even gave it a hug as we left the dining area.

Here are a couple of other choice shots from the day:

A mama-Sasha self portrait on Aladdin's magic carpets. The girl loves those up and down rides!

Sasha, Oxana, and Olivia (one of Sasha's old crib-mates) rest in the shade. It was so great to see Oxana again!

You know it was a long day if Sam can fall dead asleep on the train station steps!

And we all slept very soundly that night.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Want Go Swimmie!

The theme parks were fantastic, but the reoccurring theme of our Florida adventure was definitely the hotel swimming pool, as seen here from our 15th floor balcony. Sasha must have chanted the phrase, "want go swimmie!" 500 times over the course of the week. It was kid heaven, and Mom and Dad definitely liked the admission price :)

Any pool with a pirate ship is ok by me. Especially if it has a poolside bar.

Did we mention that the pirate ship had a water slide? Here's Steve and Ben rushing out.
Sam found that this shirt slowed down the ride a bit...
Whenever I "lost" Ben in the pool he was always found lounging in the hot tub
Ladder + inflatable swimmie = stuck
Hooray for the swimming pool!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Animal Kingdom

Our first big outing in Florida was to the Animal Kingdom with the Klippel family. I am forever indebted to Jennifer for keeping me sane in Kaz while Steve made a whirlwind trip back to the States to pick up the boys. I don't know if I could have survived 9 days alone with a two-year-old in Kazakhstan without our daily phone chats about the Turner Classic Movie and Hannah Montana episode of the day (the only English-language TV we got). I owe Jennifer big-time, and if you're ever in Hilton Head, make sure to check out Drifter Excursions and tip well.

It was a joy to finally hang out with Jennifer's son Ricky - he was still in the baby house when we left Kaz, so we didn't get the chance to get acquainted properly. Ricky and Sasha share a passion for rides that go "up and down" so while the big kids were riding the Everest roller coaster, Sasha, Ricky, and I rode the flying dinosaurs on three back-to-back rides. 95 degrees and 800% humidity feel a lot better when you've got the breeze in your hair on the back of a flying dinosaur.

Here are some photographic highlights of our day:

Ricky did agree to a character visit and was ok with the giant furry monsters as long as I was holding him close. He even gave Pooh a friendly, "hi!" but his courage didn't hold out for Eyore and Tigger - one was enough.

Sasha, on the other hand, stood with her back to the fence and screamed when I attempted to introduce her to Winnie the Pooh. Here's her recreation of her face of angry terror (the original version was much louder).
Sash loved the petting zoo and I think she would have brushed goats and sheep all day if we hadn't bribed her away with ice cream
How do you stay cool in Disney World in June? Attempt 1 - Fill your misting fan with ice. We all agreed that while the fan was good, the mist-and-evaporate cooling system works a lot better in Utah.
Attempt 2 - Water rides! This one worked well - we emerged soaked and happy. That explains the 90-minute wait lines... thank goodness for Fast Pass!
Attempt 3 - Consume massive quantities of $3.50 ice cream bars. I think we all agree that this is our preferred method of staying cool in Disney World.

Our first day at Disney was a stunning success. We survived the crowds, heat, repeated rides on the Yeti rollercoaster (although riding twice back-to-back was a huge queasy mistake), and even The Revenge of the Six-Foot Pooh Bear. That's what I call a vacation.


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