Pictures for Potty Time

6/09/2007 11:53:00 AM Edit This 0 Comments »

The first picture of course is Miss Lexie in her adorable purple hat. Next is our driver, ReNot. He said he played "American Football" and I believe him. He's been great and understands just enough English to get some of my jokes. After that is the famous Flora holding Lexie yesterday. She's quit a character. Then since I've been talking about bathrooms all day I thought I should include a picture of our "hot" water in the tub. You can't tell since the flash washed the color out but it's more a grayish color than brown. The darker the color the warmer it is so this is luke warm. Oh the joys of communal water. I found out the reason the whole town was without water when we first arrived is because according to ReNot they have a factory that produces hot water not even one boiler for the whole building. So if the family across town is showering or flushing their toilet then you're out of luck - kidding. Beats me but that's how it works here. What a great way for the government to control it's people.

Then comes the Director's Private bathroom and I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves and the last is our friendly mall bathroom ladies. I forgot in this picture there is the younger lady helping out our favorite older one. Why it would take two women to hand out stacks of TP I can't imagine but they where both there the whole time we were. It's 1:15am so I've gotta hit the hay. More tomorrow.

Court on June 12th or 13th & Potty Time

6/09/2007 09:54:00 AM Edit This 0 Comments »
Yeee haaa - it looks like court will be on Tue or Wed. Of course we don't have a set date or time but Flora has been assured that the judge will see us one of those two days. So I guess that's as firm as it gets around here. She came in during our morning visit to tell us that and to start prepping us for court. She wanted to make sure we are planning our speeches and what to say and more importantly what not to say. I had heard about most of the questions we'd be asked but I didn't know that they didn't want us to say what our religion was or that I would be baptizing Alexis. She said we must tell the court that I will teach Alexis about both my religion and how to be a Muslim. Then Lexie can choose what she wants to be when she is 18. Interesting. Flora also said that Alexis will have a dual citizenship for life not just until she is 18 as I was told. The court is really concerned that if I get married that I would somehow not want her any more. I told Flora we're a package deal now and if someone I'm interested in doesn't want Lexie then I don't want him. I'm going to be working on my speech and hopefully we can get through this next week without too many problems. I don't expect it to be without issues but I'm sure we can get through them.

Back to Lexie. When I went to pick her up today she had already been feed. I'm told that on the weekends they don't have as much help so the nurses have to prepare the kids food as well as care for them so they just make the mush and then mix it in with their formula and feed it to them in the bottle. That's why the holes in the nipples are so huge so that this mush mix can go through it. This makes it easier on the staff since they don't have to feed a dozen 12 months old individually with a spoon. They can just hold up 2 bottles for two babies and get them feed quicker. Anyway they were all back in there cribs by 10am when I got there. As soon as Lexie heard me she started crying until I picked her up and she gave me a big hug and slobbered all over me. Ain't life grand. Then they started gesturing to me and I figured out she needed to be changed. So I laid her down on a tall homemade changing table and I opened her diaper and she has a surprise for me (no Andrew I did not take a picture for your dung wall but maybe next time.) I've changed her almost every day and she's never had a poop just potty so I was actually glad to see that everything was working normally. Now I am leading up to the interesting part of the story - not that Lexie's poops aren't fascinating to everyone. The nurse just took off the diaper picked her up under the shoulders and by the feet (so her butt is hanging out) went over to the sink and turned on the water (and no they don't have hot or even warm water here) and put her little dirty butt right in the sink under the running water. Then she just grabbed a bar of soap and washed her off right there in the sink. No wipes, not antiseptic wash - just plop her in the sink, rinse her off and hand her back to me to dry off and diaper up. I guess it works because Lexie hasn't had any kind of a diaper rash even though they only get one diaper per child per day. I just don't see how that works and I'm going to ask more questions of her favorite nurse on Monday. Talk about making supplies stretch. WOW. They also haven't tried to potty train these kids as I've heard that so many other baby houses do at around 6 months. Now Rosa's daughter, who is three, they sit them on the potties as soon as they finish any meal and also they bring a pot (I mean a literal pot not a cute little potty chair) to her usually once a visit for her to just drop her drawers and sit on it whereever she happens to be. Outside on the "playground" or in the visitor's room it doesn't matter. Here comes the pot, just sit down and do your business. I'll have to ask Rosa if they bring potty paper with them as well or if they just drip dry. Sorry about all this potty talk but it's fascinating how differently they do things.

Okay, I have to add one more potty story and them I'm done with the trash talk for a while. A couple of days ago we were waiting for our driver at the baby house at the end of our day and I had to go to the potty but I really didn't want to use theirs. To say that it is unsanitary is being very kind but I just couldn't wait anymore, so I told Zina I'd be back. She said wait that I could use the director's private bathroom since it was closer and the director was still here and it wasn't locked. Cool, this has to be better then the public one. So off I go past the director's office to use her private bath. That is the two pictures you see of the blue/green bathroom. Boy was that a surprise. I was speechless. I have to say I really admire her even more for putting the children first with all her improvements and not fixing this little issue first. Or maybe she doesn't see this as a problem even though we've been in better public bathrooms in the mall that are MUCH nicer and certainly cleaner.

So I lied. I have to tell a final bathroom story and then I won't bring it up again (for at least a week unless a really good incident happens.) Mom and I where going to the Internet Cafe on the 3rd floor of this mall near the Baby House every day at lunch for a week or so until we got the Internet to work at the apt. Anyway, in Kazakhstan as far as I can tell, you can't go to the bathroom for free in public. It cost 20 tenge (about 15 cents). So everyday Mom would take her 20 tenge to the old lady who sits outside the bathrooms at her little table with small stacks of toilet paper on it. You pay your tenge and get a stack of TP which is about 6 pieces. Only this is the local TP which is extremely rough to say the least. We carry our own but of course you don't want to offend these sweet old ladies so you take your stack, do your business and leave with at Spa-sea-ba (thank you in Russian) and off you go. So on Mom's 3rd or 4th day for some reason she didn't pay attention and went into the men's room. How she went in, did her business and didn't notice the two men in there I don't know. But she managed it and caused quit a scene when she came out to wash her hands. The lady came in to get her since I think the man at the sink was yelling "woman in sacred manly pee pee room" or something to that effect. Mom told me she didn't really notice anything until this guy started yelling. Okay we've got to have a talk with Mom really soon about what the little "man" symbol on the door means. The next day as we are coming up the stairs in the mall and the bathroom is right at the top of the stairs. Well before we hit the last step the bathroom lady is laughing hysterically and slapping her leg and pointing to the men's room and then at Mom. Somehow Mom didn't think it was funny but I thought it was hilarious. Every time we come there now she laughs and points. It's nice to know that we can entertain the locals with so little effort.

I'm done with the potty stories I promise. FYI some of the pictures I posted earlier were the wrong ones. The one with the round shower was of the bathroom in Almaty not Aktau (sorry I couldn't tell what I was down loading but I clearly had bathrooms on the brain all day) another is of Rosa and her 3 year 3 month old daughter Ellena. She's a little shy but very sweet. Another is our neighbor hanging her laundry. I never realized how stiff clothes that are washed and then left to dry on a rack where. Everyone here either hangs them outside where the wind loosens them up or they iron everything. Thank goodness for poly-blends so I haven't had to do too much ironing but Mom likes to iron (crazy woman) so she's taken care of Lexie and my clothes. Thanks Mom!! Now I know why they don't change clothes very often. Zina & Flora maybe have 4 or 5 outfits with them and that's it. So anyone coming here that wants to pack light and only bring a few things I can honestly say no one here would even notice. I can't remember if I included a picture of the ceilings or not but they are way cool. All the buildings are concrete and so are all the walls including the ceilings. To add lights they have lowered the ceilings and put in little canned lights and created these really cool coved ceilings. It's a really creative way to add lights in these small spaces and make it attractive at the same time.

We went to our first restaurant in Aktau for lunch today which was an experience but I've really got to end for now but I'll try to tell you about it tomorrow. See there's always something exciting going on around here so you'll just have to tune in tomorrow for an update.

Apartment in Aktau

6/09/2007 02:44:00 AM Edit This 0 Comments »

I just have a minute but here are pictures of our apartment in Aktau as requested. As you can see it's nicer that in Almaty and is much cleaner. You'll notice the living room with the lovely blue sofa & chairs, then our little dining room, the bedroom with our twin beds and the kitchen complete with the dryer (AKA - they drying rack in front of the fridge) the bath room with the clothes washer in it. Then I think I have a view from the bedroom of the parking lot with the bus in it and the front of our building with Mom standing in front of it. My favorite pictures is our neighbors chatting out front. Aren't they fabulous? I've gotta run as they are coming to pick us up but more later.