Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It amazes me how much has happened in just this past year since we met our beautiful daughter, Nika in Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. She has come so far and delights us everyday with her exuberance and joy. She has retained a few Russian words that we continue to use so she is familiar with the language. We talk about her Kazak home as Albina dom (the director of the orphanage was Albina), but what she loves to talk about is Brooklyn the home we first took her to when we returned to the States and now after 4 months in a new home in a new town Nika still refers to our house (every time we pull into the driveway) as Nika's new house. She loves her home, her family, her school, new friends and food. We have learned a lot from one another this past year and what I know most is that we are all so special and with a little work and a lot of love we can grow and flourish in the most surprising ways. I love my daughter and am thrilled this past year is behind us and will remember what we once were as we move forward and grow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I just wanted to add that I wish there was more time for all of us to have together getting to know one another. I especially loved meeting all four planners and their families. I had spent so much time getting to know them a few months back that I really enjoyed finally meeting them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


We had such a great time in Chicago this past weekend at Kazapalooza 2008.
We finally got to meet in person some of the many families that we have become familiar with via their blogs about their adoption process in Kazakhstan and current lives back home.
I hardly make the time to continue our blog but thought for this occasion I must post some photos of our new friends. There were so many people to talk to we hardly got around to everyone but we all shared some special moments and a lot of love and fun.

Special thanks to Muriel, Michelle, Gretchen and Kristan for taking so much time and making the effort to pull this very successful event off. Good job girls, great to meet you all and will look forward to staying in touch and seeing you all again next year if not sooner. To everyone else who attended - I hope we can share in each others blogs and watch our beautiful children develop and thrive.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Birthday Girl

Nika is 3 years old today and it also happens to be 6 months today that we are home with her. I thought I would keep the day simple with her and we would celebrate with just the family this evening together, but when I took her to her favorite music class this morning and everyone sang Happy Birthday to her I got completely emotional and realized what a big day this is.

We have come so far together and our beautiful daughter, Nika is so loved and happy with her life I was taken by the moment and decided I must go out and get an ice cream cake and invite a few friends over to celebrate after school. We had a great party and I am so glad Nika got to feel the love from all of her new friends and family. We all had a great day. I am just so moved by how far we've come. I read my friends blogs who are in the process of adopting and hear their stories and recall myself being in a difficult place and uncertain times of not knowing how things were going to play out. Finally I can truly say I don't worry so much any more - I am confident we are on track and moving right along.
Speaking of which - we move in 1 month from today.
Ouch that means I have a lot to do between now and then.

Friday, April 4, 2008


It is almost five months that Nika has been home in NYC and I can finally say she is a very happy girl. It was a difficult few months getting settled into life and family but she is doing so well adjusting and loving her home and environment. All of a sudden her language is coming together and just this week she is speaking and greeting Tom at the door with whole sentences that can actually be understood.
There is no doubt this child is full of energy, but she seems a bit calmer then before. We also notice her display of love has surfaced and she wakes up and gives Aidan a good morning kiss and hug that just fills me with joy.
So there you have it - we are all truly in love and growing every day in every way.
Life is good.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

12 weeks later

I realized tomorrow will be 12 weeks since we have been home. It has been a very hectic time for us and I do not want to go into too much detail, mainly because I speak to most of you.
We are well, yes still tired but working on that. Nika is so happy in her new home. The two sisters are great together and I get such joy knowing they have each other. If I said much more it would become epic so I keep it short and sweet.
Let the pictures speak for how we are and maybe I will come around to bloggging again sometime soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I hardly have the brainpower to say more than – everything is wonderful and incredibly hectic. Nika is still on Kaz time and we are desperately trying to get her into our time zone but she has not completely made the switch yet. Therefore I too am living in her zone and sleep deprived for it. Otherwise, we are so happy to be home and trying to find a new rhythm to life. Aidan and Nika are getting along so well (most of the time) and that is the most exciting thing for us--to see them starting to bond and know one another.

More later.............

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hello From Brooklyn

I live in Brooklyn. By choice.
-- A House on the Heights
Truman Capote

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

On Our Way Home!!

Hello all, it's Tom with a quick post. We made it through our interview at the Embassy today (with a little bit of drama that we'll write about in the epilogue to this journey) and our travel agent in the States told us there were seats available on the flight that leaves early morning Thursday. We'll get confirmation from him when his day starts but as of now we're heading home. I can't believe I just wrote that but don't worry, I have no doubt it will sink in quickly.

If we can't get on the flight we'll post an entry here but as of now we should land at around 1 pm New York time on Thursday afternoon. We're looking forward to seeing everyone and introducing Nika to you all.

As for me and my lack of posting, I know, I know...the truth is that it's been difficult to find a theme to write around, I know that's a cop-out but there are so many different things that struck me about Almaty and I'm hoping that a few days' distance will help distill them into something coherent. It's a beautiful place and the firm has been exceedingly gracious to Allyson, Nika and I. At the same time, the absolute lack of a common language with anyone outside the firm is no different than watching a movie with the sound turned off. Eventually you pick up the theme but it takes a while and you always wonder what you've missed. No complaints, I can't imagine not having taken this trip although I wish that Aidan could have been here to share it with us.

That's enough for now, like I said I'm sure there will be several epilogues over the next days and weeks, innumerable people to thank (starting with our parents and families) and plenty of stories to tell (including all the stories about what we missed when we were gone, like whatever happened to the Yankees). See you in Brooklyn, if you're around stop by this weekend, we'd love to see you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Last (Lost) Weekend in Almaty

Good news--the passport came through and we are going through the final US embassy procedures and will be able to leave in a few days.

We had a fun weekend.

Saturday we went up to Medeo, the mountain resort area and went ice skating on what is advertised as the largest outdoor skating rink in the world. It was truly beautiful. The ice started out really slippery but then after a few spins I got more comfortable and the ice got a bit scratched up by the other skaters and I felt more comfortable. Tom and I took turns between skating on the ice and playing with Nika. She had fun basking in the sun and watching all the action. No, she did not skate, but we’ll try later this winter once we get her a pair of double-blade skates.

Sunday, we walked all day and in the evening we entertained a couple of Tom’s colleagues from the Grata firm for dinner at our place. I had fun and if you don’t mind saying it, great success, making a meal using the one pot that came with the flat and typical Almaty supermarket ingredients, to come up with a few dishes that were totally different then they had eaten before.

Monday was spent on Nika’s medical checkup with the international clinic here in Almaty and then a dinner at the home of another Grata partner. If things go well, on Tuesday the final translated paperwork, including Kazkakh passport and exit visa will arrive from Astana on the train. It will be submitted to the American Embassy for the consul’s review and confirmation that no other documents are needed and our interview can go forward. Our interview is scheduled for 3pm on Wednesday and as all goes well, we will walk out of there with Veronika Rose Guida’s US visa and will be free to travel home. If possible we may be getting on an earlier flight be home on Thursday instead of Friday but it’s too tantalizing to consider until it’s a reality so let’s just not think about that (or tell Aidan yet).

Either way – we are moments away……..finally. How exciting!!!

Veronika is very vocal when she is with us but when around other people, even those that speak Russian to her, she remains fairly silent, maybe just shy for now. She is a very funny girl and so 2 years old, if you know what I mean. Tonight’s joke was that she was sitting on my lap, whispering some gibberish in my ear and knowing very well I couldn’t hear and or understand her. That was exactly her point – I think she realizes, volume doesn’t make a difference neither one of us are completely understanding one another so it was a joke she was whispering nonsense in my ear and I was whispering back and we were both laughing.

I thought I would mention a few things about this city of Almaty. It has much more to offer then I might have given it credit for originally, having come from Arkalyk I was not sure how much more advanced a city in the same country that has an Arkalyk could be. Now, after two weeks here I think it is a pretty dynamic place but lots of stark contrasts: old and new, modern and traditional, those with significant wealth and those scraping by. In other words, much like many other great cities around the world, with the same variety of neighborhoods and people. There is certainly a lot of building going on and according to some of our Kazak friends who have lived here all their lives, they much prefer the old style to what is being built now.

The literature we read about the variety of people here was quite accurate. There are actually three different groups within the Kazakh nation, and many people have some mix of Central Asian ethnic groups in their heritage, including Uzbek, Tatar, Khyrgiz, Turkish, Mongolian and of course there is some mixing between those groups and Russians. We’re both pretty exhausted and overloaded from the trip but managing not to let that overlay taint our appreciation of the place and the people, which are pretty amazing.

Stay tuned, we’re nearly there…

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Café Delia

All is well. Prepare yourself to once again follow the bouncing ball with the most current version of our timeline from this point on:

Nika’s passport may be issued today (Thursday) by the Regional authorities in Kostanai but is more likely to be issued before the close of business on Friday. This is the latest it can be issued and the timing still work for us to take our originally scheduled flight one week from Friday, the 9th of November. Once the passport is issued it goes on Monday to be registered with the local Kostanai Region immigration Police. From there it will be put on the train for an overnight to Astana where our local coordinator will receive it at 8am and have the day to take it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their registration stamp. That evening it will be put once again on another overnight train, this time en route to Almaty, where the Almaty coordinator will get it from the conductor. Later that day (Wednesday, if all goes well) the coordinator will take us for our interview with the American Embassy. I forgot to mention that on Monday we will prep additional paperwork for the Embassy and on Tuesday we will have our appointment for Nika’s mandatory medical review with the Embassy-affiliated clinic. Assuming it all goes as I have described we are on our plane on Friday. Let’s not even discuss the obvious extra days before we leave if on this Friday the Passport is not complete.

What can I say, I am tongue tied-once again because this whole process is so difficult in many ways. We have absolutely no control or ability to help this process along and it will not go any faster then it is already going regardless of what we do. Believe me, we have made many attempts to gain more insight into the process and we need to be patient and remind ourselves that we have a beautiful daughter because of this process.

I am sitting in a groovy Internet Café (Café Delia) sipping my latte and happily having two hours to myself. I dropped Nika with Tom so they could have some quality afternoon bonding. I just needed a moment to relax and write. I realized Nika and I have been together now 24/7/23(days) – and when I say 24 I don’t really exaggerate because she wakes every night with screams of terror so we put her in our bed and in the morning I awake to her playing with my nose or finger in the ear or just some basic rambunctious kicks to say its time to get up. We get to see the sun rise over the mountains as I cook our morning porridge.

Nika follows me everywhere – that would include the bathroom while I shower and do my business, I often feel like I am about to trip over her because she is under my feet beside me. We have some really sweet rituals developing that she really enjoys and likes repeated over and over again – it’s that 2-year-old thing.

I have basically given up the nap, it was incredibly painful for the two of us and for now we will forfeit it with hopes that we can incorporate it into our Brooklyn life. I was waiting yesterday for someone to arrive at 1pm as scheduled and at 2:30 I heard he would be a little late and then he arrived at 3pm instead (this too I am learning is a Kazakh thing-lack of promptness is to be tolerated and that is just how it is. So I thought maybe I would try the nap because we have just a handful of toys at this point that we are getting somewhat bored of and I sat Nika on the couch and tried to cradle her like I would for sleep and she started to sing my Tumbala (sleep) song and with her hand she started making nice to me so I would shut my eyes………the same thing I was about to do to her. It was a priceless moment and she too knew how funny she was. Ha – so neither of us slept, but it was a good try.

She really is cute, and smart and mischievous and stubborn and loving and eager to please.

I had a moment today when we were in the mall, yes I’m doing malls, I tried museums but Nika is just too wild, she wants to run around, scream and touch everything. I have a hard time getting her to hold my hand and just walk. Instead she will put her hands behind her back and start to walk backwards without looking or considering what is behind her. Then she will wave to me and say bye bye or paca paca and away she goes. So the mall thing seems safer then the streets, but I do both. Today we went into a park and played in a really fun, dirty playground and I realized she was in awe of conversations going on with other moms and their children because she was hearing and understanding the language. It makes me sad that I cannot communicate in the same way. I know she will soon understand all that I am saying but for now it is reassuring for her to hear Russian. The other night we went out with one of Tom’s colleges from work and she had a nursery rhyme that Veronika loved. I had her write it down for me so I can start saying it to her.

Here you can all learn it –

Goosi, Goosie – Gah, Gah, Gah!
Est Khotite? – Dah, Dah, Dah
Khl’eba s maslom? – Net, Net, Net!
A chevo? – Kanfet, kanfet!

Do not ask me to translate – I just know she loved it and I will try to repeat it as often as I remember.

We have been social every evening which helps the time go by and always nice to relax and converse with new friends and acquaintances. Last night we had our 2 adoptive family friends at our apartment. We had a nice evening celebrating their own successful court appearances earlier that day. Tonight we are meeting Aidos Sagat, the leader of the Kazakhstan Rock band, URKER. That’s right folks, leave it to Tom to find a connection to the only #1 Kazakh band we know (we saw them at Lincoln Center last year). Aidos was kind enough to give us a Kazakh wall hanging when he and Tom first met that is very beautiful and thoughtful. I will write more when I can get some “me” time again and tell you of our visit.

Cross your fingers, say a prayer, throw salt over your shoulder, put out the positive good energy and vibes for Veronika Rose Guida’s passport to be issued on time by tomorrow, Friday.

Enough said.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I wanted to say that I am having technical difficulties and hope to catch up with the blog within another day or so.

I do not have online access at our apartment so Tom was able to get my Blackberry working and I am finally receiving all your emails again, thankfully. The good news is I have a very active 2 year old, who is demanding of my full attention. We seem to be busy most days and Veronika has not been taking her afternoon nap so I really do not have time during the day to write but please keep the emails coming.

I have many pictures to post and stories to tell – I will get there again. For now – sorry for the delay.

Hopefully ……more tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Republic Day

Republic Day celebrates the day in 1991 that Kazakhstan declared itself a sovereign republic. There is a second holiday in December which celebrates its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union that same year.

Tom had the day off (as did our driver) and we took a long walk to see some of the city and neighborhoods, we met John and Gigi for lunch at a pizza place with an internet café for quick check of emails. Then after a quick nap at home had dinner out with a nice Kazakh couple that Tom has met through a business connection. Tom has made it a point to keep us busy socially so I will perhaps not have as much time to think about wanting to be home as much. It does help in ways. We had dinner at Pomodoro, a small Italian restaurant not in any of the guide books owned by Giorgio, a local legend who set up the first Italian restaurant here in 1993, returned to Italy a few years later with his new Kazakh bride, then returned to Almaty three year ago to cure his wife’s homesickness and a widely-reported homesickness here for his cooking. It was a terrific meal and went a little way towards helping us forget we are far from home.

By the way – I keep writing Veronika and I think I should mention now that I have been calling her Nika (“Neeka”) most of the time, it works and she generally responds to it.

She has a few English words so far……..up, down, hello, good bye, all done and she calls me momma and Tom papa. She has a lot to say in Russian and some of it we understand.
She also loves to sing with me my Tumbala song – I hope my mom, bubba and Aidan will appreciate that, it is a lullaby I have always loved. My grandmother and mother of course know all of the words, I sing the same four words over and hum the rest and now Nika does also as does Aidan.

We are now checking out the markets and malls in town and maybe we will actually buy something, up until now we have not made a real purchase of any kind. We also are planning on sight-seeing a bit this afternoon. This city has an amazing backdrop of snow-capped mountains and we plan to take a cable car to the top of one ridge and see what is going on there. What tourist books there are do not give much detail about the sites and city. So we’re going on word of mouth and we will report back in a few days once we have had a chance to explore more.

For now we are together and well, longing for our number one child and home, but thankful that the process will soon be done. We are in the final stretch of waiting for Veronika’s passport and exit visa. On Wednesday, we should have the exact status on when it will go to Astana to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then be sent overnight to Almaty for our two days of US Embassy processing. Fingers crossed all of this will take place in time for us to depart as planned in the early morning hours of November 9th.


I have not really taken photographs since I am in Almaty. I do not seem to be as interested in this city as I was in my little village of Arkalyk. By the way…….I hope I was clear that I have been on dial up speed and once I am back home and able to get high speed again I will be able to post some truly interesting higher resolution photos of the landscape as I saw it. Too difficult now with dial up.

I have also been without Internet completely for 6 days, boo hoo. I walk around with Veronika during the day without a cell phone, not speaking the language or able to read even a street sign and not connected by Internet, what a contrast and disconnect to life as I know it. I now know what Tom meant when he told me he felt like he was on one of those Zen silent retreats where there is no one to speak to in English for hours on end.

Tom is working out of Grata Law Firm’s high rise office, relatively connected and meeting people daily that are educated and speak some English so he has made some in-roads at understanding the city and culture.

Thankfully I have our driver Alexandr, again not a word of language understood by either of us yet we figure out how to get Veronika and I to and fro as needed. Being in a completely foreign place is amazing and exhausting all at the same time. V and I met Tom at his office last night for a cocktail party, they were celebrating the next day’s Republic Day Holiday. We got to meet all of his co-workers and hear some toasts, in Russian of course, and laugh along like we understood. The “toast” is ever-present in Kazakhstan, whether it’s an intimate family dinner or office party, and Tom thinks that there is a premium placed on the length of the toast as a sign of respect for the person being toasted, where we often respect bang-for-the buck in a short but well-spoken phrase or two.

Later that evening, Tom wanted to treat me to a nice evening and take us for a sushi dinner. He had been to this particular restaurant last week and thought I would enjoy. Sushi is one of my favorite meals, so I agreed. It wasn’t the most relaxing of meals, but all in all enjoyable. Keep in mind we had a 2year old sitting and waiting for food much longer then anticipated and maybe more restless then we were accustomed to, but she handled herself pretty well despite the late hour and new environment.

I was blown away with the fact that we were ordering sushi for ourselves and trying to get something for Veronika like a rice with cooked chicken and vegetable sort of meal when the server brings over a menu to tell us in Russian – “children’s menu.” What were the two options, you might ask? We had no idea how universal the children’s menu concept is, the options were, not surprisingly, chicken fingers with fries or spaghetti. How amazing, because there is no reference to anything American here in this country, there are almost no fast food chains, yet they serve children the two most American meals available on the children’s menu in any restaurant USA. Talk about a lack of context.

There we were eating Veronika’s fries with ketchup with our chopsticks while we waited on our sushi – it was Veronika’s first chicken fingers and fries – not bad once she figured out what they were. The sushi, which nearly resembled what we thought we’d ordered, wasn’t bad and might just hold us over until we get home.

Almaty - Day One and Two Impressions

Almaty-Day One

WOW – what a difference from Arkalyk. I will not say anything bad about being in Arkalyk, it was time for us to move on. I can tell you already Veronika is very happy to be here.

We had a busy 24 hours of travel to get here, we were welcomed by Tom at the airport and taken to our apartment by a driver he has hired for us while we are here. At first I did not understand the need for a driver but already I am glad we have Alexandr to navigate for us.

We actually had dinner plans this evening at the home of Kevin and Marci Kilpatrick and their 5 wonderful children. Marci is the friend of a friend of my cousin Michele in North Carolina, and Kevin was recently posted to the US Embassy here as the State Department Regional Medical Officer for Central Asia. They have a lovely home and we had such a nice evening getting to know them and hearing about their process of settling in for Kevin’s two year assignment. They have traveled the world and made many exotic lands their home while Kevin has worked for various international medical groups and they are an all around amazing family.

It took Veronika about an hour to warm up to everyone and she had a ball. It made me think of how much she will enjoy her cousins and all the family once she gets to meet them.

Day 2 in Almaty

Veronika and I took the car with Tom to work and after we dropped him off at the office we walked around the Central Recreational Park (formerly known as Gorky Park). It was very beautiful, almost as pretty as Central Park. There were many children playing and all speaking Russian, Veronika didn’t seem to want to get involved with them at all. I think she gets very shy and also likes relaxing in her stroller, so I wandered around for a while and then had the driver take me to the RamStor Mall, a want-to-be American style mall with food court and all. No, I did not eat there, but we did get to watch little girls taking ice skating lesions for a while at the miniature rink right in the middle of the mall. Aidan has already told me that she wants an ice skating birthday party next March so I think we will need to get Veronika started on skates as soon as we get home. Veronika is fearless and she already falls all the time so maybe she will do just fine on skates.

Back to the Ramstor, we went food shopping at the real supermarket there. Yes, this was another one of my highlights because there was actually aisles and variety, closer to resembling a supermarket as we know it in the States then anything in Arkalyk, that’s for sure.

I prepared dinner that evening for a couple Tom had met a week earlier. John and Gigi are from Boston and here adopting a one year old girl. They were so nice and fun to be with, and once she warmed up to them Veronika was very taken once again with another male figure, she really likes the men……..it’s all new to her.

I think women may remind her of the caretakers and men are not just new, they’re mostly silly and goofy to her and somehow she got John and the Kilpatrick boys to get on the floor to play and make her laugh. If you notice, women are more serious when it comes to playing – men make faces, noises, etc. Do you agree?

It was a good day, but once again I must admit it is hard for me to say I don’t miss Aidan madly and want so desperately to be with her.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Raining, It's Pouring

It's cold and muddy outside, but I had to get a few minutes of fresh air because we felt cooped up inside. So, I dressed Veronika in all her layers, rolled up her pants, put on her hat and off we went. Our big outing was to the garbage pail around the corner to throw the many empty beer bottles left behind by the 3 couples I had invited over the night before. These couples have recently arrived to adopt children from the orphanage and I shared some of what I had already gone through and learned along the way. We had a nice evening and I thought it was too bad they hadn't arrived earlier in our process, we would have enjoyed the company. Of course, we were very fortunate to be imersed into the Kazakh culture, so no complaints.

Back to Veronika and I, out in the rain enjoying those brief grey moments when she tripped like every two-year old inevitably does and fell right into the mud. I am talking full frontal mud-ity. She got up, totally startled and upset and started wiping the mud from her hands on which ever parts of her had not been covered. 100% mess, which isn't bad for probably all of 4 minutes of outside fun. I decided to bring her in because surely if anyone saw us they would think I was crazy to have a child outside like that.

In we went and that was the highlight of my day. No pictures – too messy and a moment better remembered than documented.

So that was my high of the day – my low of the day went like this:

After Veronika took a two hour nap, what a joy, and mommy joined her for the last 45 minutes of snooze time. Yes, I admit it, I too have been napping, what fun. This is a pleasure I have always denied myself out of sheer guilt, there must be a dozen other things I need to do before I could even consider an afternoon rest, right? When she awoke I thought to give her a snack of peach yogurt, she decided she did not want it and began getting very upset. I tried some other alternatives, but she wasn't sure of anything and I started to eat her yogurt trying to get her to have some. I wound up finishing the whole yogurt and she just kept getting extremely agitated and the tantrum began. This continued and I couldn't figure out why and she was so upset I thought to see if Habiba's children next door could help change the scene and help calm her.Instead, Solya (Habiba's aunt) was in the kitchen cooking and Veronika likes her very much, and went directly to her and calmed down within moments. Now, my two year old wanted nothing to do with me for hours, only wanted Solya who was speaking Russian and singing to her. Maybe Veronika doesn't like my songs or understand me but it hurt and made me sad. There, you have the high and low of my day, probably the same for any parent of a two year old, particularly one trying to make sense of a whole new world.

Then came the evening, which was an event full of fun. Habiba arranged a dinner out at the café to commemorate my leaving (no need to say "a" cafe because there's only one). It was the first time I went out for a meal since I arrived and it was really fun. We had a private room in the back and ate some really good food, had many vodka toasts, followed by dancing. It was such a fun time and I truly appreciate Habiba honoring me with a dinner like that, its nice we have a good relationship and bond.

As for my husband, he is alive and well and spending too much time thinking up a theme for his first blog entry on Almaty. He is also suffering today all alone in Almaty with possibly food poisoning. He was out last night at a Kazakh wedding with friends from the law firm he is working with.

Good news about my train ride to Astana – I have Aidar's sister joining me for the long ride. It will be very helpful to have her with us.

Next stop--Almaty!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Boots

Veronika liked her new boots so much she wouldn't take them off.

She's cute isn't she?
We think so.
Can't wait for you all to meet her.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Farmers' Market

Not exactly like the one in my neighborhood, but like most local farmers' markets the food is fresh - sometimes too fresh. I was surprised to see that they sell meat, and butcher the animals there in the market, it was a sight I was mostly unable to photograph except for this one photograph but the image will be in my brain for some time I am sure.
They also sell bags of onions and potatoes off the truck, not like our 5lb bags, I’m talking more like 25lb size. When it is the staple for every meal, you go through a lot. Sugar as well is sold in very large quantities.

I find myself wandering these markets buying 2 bananas or an orange at a time. It is just an excuse to get out, walk around and see what’s going on. There is an outdoor flea market as well, but I can’t seem to find anything to buy except tights or panties for Veronika. I have made friends with another couple that arrived last week from Belgium, so that’s great having some company to take walks and have conversation with. I have spent a lot of time with my coordinator, Habiba and her family and have grown extremely fond of all of them and their lifestyle. Last night I found myself baby sitting for her kids, and had such a fun time dancing to Russian MTV. I broke out the video camera and will have a fun clip to edit of all of us. Yes I am having some wonderful random moments and my days are flying by, caring for Veronika is keeping me extremely busy, I had forgotten how consuming a two year old could be.

On Sunday we will leave Arkalyk. Our adventure will begin at 6pm when we get on the 15-hour train to Astana. Once we arrive we will have Vikka, our local Astana coordinator, meet V and I to take us to the airport. Our flight is two hours and I think we will have a 2-3 hour wait in the airport before take off. We already have dinner plans for that evening with another American family. I will tell you more about them after I have met them.

I so look forward to reuniting with Tom and being in a new place. Veronika looks at the phone and says Papa; she knows he’s out there. I also show her pictures of sister Aidan all the time and tell her about the rest of the family. I wonder if she is really taking it all in or not.


11/08/07 Left Kazakhstan on route home to NYC
10/22/07 Left Arkalyk for Almaty
10/03/07 Court Day - Petition for Adoption Accepted!
9/15/07 First day in Arkalyk at orphanage, met Veronika
9/12/07 Departing NYC on route to Kazakhstan
9/04/07 LOI - arrived today!
8/24/07 Heard from Agency with information about children, region and some details about trip. (1 week to gather info while caseworker on vacation)
7/27/07 Began process of updating FBI clearance and medical forms
7/03/07 Dossier arrived in Astana, Kazakhstan at the MFA
6/27/07 Approved by Kaz Embassy in DC and shipped to
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Astana, Kazakhstan (MFA is the 1st ministry to review dossier)
6/22/07 Dossier shipped to Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington, DC
6/01/07 Dossier fully translated and awaiting to be sent to Kaz Embassy.
5/21/07 Agency submitted dossier for translation.
5/15/07 Dossier complete / sent to adoption agency
5/09/07 I-171H Approval letter forwarded by INS to US Embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan
5/01/07 Notarize, Authenticate, Apostille and copy of all documents
4/24/07 INS fingerprinting
4/08/07 Paper work hell...........working to gather all that is needed to complete dossier
3/12/07 Received notice of FBI clearance from US Department of Justice
3/11/07 Second home study visit
3/04/07 First home study visit
3/02/07 Had fingerprints taken for FBI clearance
2/28/07 I600A - Application filed with BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services ) for I-171H
2/21/07 Applied for home study review and began collecting documents for dossier
2/20/07 Signed with Adoption Agency - Adoption Ark