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September 8, 2006

Sweet little sisters – meet your Mommy

This has been some more of a day!!  We left Almaty early this morning for Kokshetau (where we’ll be staying for the next month.)  Have you ever heard of a YAK 40 plane?  Dave kept calling it a Buddy Holly plane.  Oh yeah… that’s comforting.  I was pretty nervous about it, but it actually turned out to be an easy trip.  The plane was small and we ended up holding about half our luggage in our laps, but it was still a smooth and pleasant trip.

Azel (our interpreter) and Sergey (our driver) met us at the airport.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I sure didn’t expect that I’d be meeting with the director from the Ministry of Education right after I got off the plane.  I had to fill out more paperwork, and then he wanted to talk to me.  Oh no!!!  Everything I thought I knew or ever knew completely left me.  He wanted to know if my having a mortgage would mean that the girls wouldn’t be able to go to school (huh?  Not go to school?  Are you kidding?  It’s so obvious he doesn’t know anything about me!!), what religion the girls would be raised in, and what I knew about Kazakhstan (which suddenly was nothing!)  Then he started talking about Scary Movie 4 and how they made fun of Kazakh traditions in that movie.  Great!  I didn’t even see the movie, so I didn’t have a clue how to respond.  Turns out he thought the movie was kind of funny but wanted to make sure I didn’t plan on using that as the basis for teaching my girls about Kazakhstan.  Oh yeah.  That was an easy promise to make.

Finally we made it to Tschuchinsk and I got to meet my girls.  I’m so blown away I don’t really know what to say.  They’re precious.  We got to meet Ryn (Alina) first.  She wasn’t sure what she thought about me in that first minute and kept looking at her caregiver like she was going to cry, but she got over that quickly.  Within five minutes she was Mommy’s girl!  Within an hour she didn’t want to be anywhere but on my hip or in my lap.  When I sat down in the floor she came over and pressed her little body as close as she could get to me.  I was in heaven!  I’m sure the fact that I was bribing her with toys and banana shortbread cookies had absolutely nothing to do with it.  It’s a good thing she likes me, because she seems to be a little scared of Dave.  She’s never been around men before, and his deep voice scares her.  As far as she’s concerned, that whole women are from Venus/men are from Mars thing is true…  He may as well be from Mars!  She’ll get used to him though and learn to love him as much as every other kid on the planet! 

They brought Maggie (Vera) in a few minutes later.  She was very somber and serious, and we couldn’t even get her to look at us at first.  She’s very shy and I think she’s a little nervous about the whole idea of a new Mommy.  Unlike Ryn, she’s not so easily impressed with cookies.  She’ll take them, but she’s certainly not going to let me know she likes them.  I could tell she was nervous, so I was trying very hard to take it slow with her.  I brought out a few toys, but she almost seemed nervous about playing with them at first.  Then ZhaZha DaeDae (that’s Uncle Dave) started teasing her with the laughing dinosaur (which he insists is a crocodile) and she started warming up some.  When he would pretend the crocodile was biting her shoe she’d cover her mouth so we couldn’t see that she was trying not to smile.  It was very sweet.  When I pulled out the little LEAP frog that sings the ABCs she was getting happier.  She learned quickly how to make him sing, and we heard the alphabet song many, MANY times before we left.  She may not love me any time soon, but the child will probably be able to sing her ABCs before she gets home!!

Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures from today.  We tried, but the camera flash scared Ryn, and Maggie flat refused to look up.  The couple we did get were purely of the tops of their heads.  Maybe tomorrow will be better for that.  I know you’re anxious to see them, and we’ll get something posted as soon as we can.