November 5, 2008
Waiting for Pre-Court, Day 2
Yesterday I learned that Emilia’s daily schedule has been changed. The baby nurses are introducing more sophisticated foods into her diet, so she is now having meals at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. (not counting bottles). As a result, my schedule also has been changed, so that I can be at the baby house for two feedings.
Feeding Emilia has become an increasingly comical experience. She is working very hard to sit up on her own, and she seems to like practicing when she’s sitting on my lap eating. Em also wants to investigate what is in her bowl and cup, so she likes to grab them when I’m holding them. This has created some rather precarious moments, with porridge flipping from the spoon and egg yolk flying through the air. She particularly likes to mash food on her face, as if she’s helping out by cramming it into her mouth. What doesn’t get into her mouth inevitably gets squished on her bib, her clothes, my clothes, or the chair. If this were not enough, Em has also taken an interest in trying to chew the rim of her cup or bowl. Essentially, she’s an equal opportunity chewer.
I usually change Emilia into clean clothes before her morning feeding, per the baby house’s recommendation, but I’m really questioning this logic. Within the first 15 minutes of feeding Em, I knew she would have to be changed. She was no longer simply wearing purple pants; she was wearing purple porridge pants. The clothes had to come off. Fortunately, her clothes from yesterday were still at the baby house, so the nurses slipped her into those.
When I returned in the afternoon, Emilia was wearing yet another outfit. She had managed to soil outfit number 2, so we were on to something new. In the time that I saw Em today, she was wearing four different outfits!
I’m pleased to say that Emilia has taken a liking to more grown up food – meat and potato mash, that is. She’s also quite interested in “dessert.” I had a few chuckles with Aliya over this, as I couldn’t imagine what they would be feeding her, and she was struggling to come up with the right words. Dessert turned out to be tea biscuits soaking in juice. I guess this can be considered tasty when you only have two teeth and are not familiar with all the other desserts the world has to offer.
I did get some important news today. Zoure informed me that I will be going to pre-court on Friday at noon and court on November 12. This is good news, as it means that Emilia will be my official daughter in one week’s time. Yippee!
Tonight Aliya, several of my adoption friends and I went to Shangyrak, a nearby restaurant for a traditional Kazakh meal. There were ten of us in our own private room (Aliya masterfully arranged everything!), and we had a wonderful time trying all the different foods, including horse meat, shubat (fermented camel’s milk), kumys (fermented mare’s milk), and beshkarmak (five fingers). I had to spit my first bite of horse meat into a napkin, though I tried to be ladylike about it. It was terribly gamey. The second bite, which was from a different cut, actually tasted O.K., but the thought of eating horse still freaked me out (Note: the second bite was the last bite). As for the camel and mare’s milk, this is an acquired taste I don’t think I’ll acquire in my lifetime. Both types of milk are very bitter and have a strong aftertaste. The closest thing I can compare them to is butter milk. “Five fingers” is a dish with chunks of meat, potatoes, onions and large noodles, and its name reflects the way in which it’s eaten. You simply dig in with all five fingers. I did this at first, but then switched to a fork, as it seemed a bit neater. I really enjoyed this dish and even had a second helping.
We had our own boom box, which played Kazakh music in the background, and at the end of the evening, a few of us got up and danced. It was a really fun night with everyone laughing, joking and talking about their experiences here in Kaz. Of course, everyone was talking about their babies, too. We never forget why we’ve come here!
I am very excited that I’ve had a chance to experience some of the national foods with my new group of friends. I am especially grateful to Aliya for planning the outing. She has enriched my life and other adoptive families’ lives because of her genuine kindness and generosity. I truly believe she embodies the hospitality and beauty of the Kazakh people.
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