The weather is considerably cooler today. Right now it’s only about 27 degrees, which feels down right cool compared to the past few days. It looks like we will be treated to temperatures in the mid 20’s for the next couple of days. We will certainly enjoy them!
Today when we picked M up for his visit, the caregiver handed him to Rod, which we thought would certainly cause tears and wails, but it did not! The little guy sat in his Dad’s arms like he’d been there his entire life. That’s good, because Tammy was getting a little tired of being accused of hogging the little guy. (I think Dad was getting a little jealous.) The cooler temperatures allowed M to be a little more active today. He played with and quickly figured out a set of stacking cups, and then began to look for anything that would go into those cups. The lid off a water bottle, his book, his foot, and he even tried to pull the button off his shirt to put into the cups. He was also content to sit on the blanket by himself today, which was a first. Up until now, he would only sit on one of our laps and was quite distressed if we tried to put him down. M also started to give and take things with us today. Dad put his hand out to M and to our surprise, M put a cup right into it. When Dad handed the cup back to M, he turned and put it straight into Mom’s hand. If you would have told us 8 days ago that we would have gotten this far, this fast with M, we would have politely smiled and said, “We sure hope so,” but would have never thought it would be possible.
Yesterday after our visit, we decided to take a stroll along the river. Along the way we came across a children’s playground that has many interesting things to do for all ages, but we noticed quite a few things that were more suitable for M. Once he is here with us, we will likely make many trips to that park. There are many playgrounds scattered amongst the apartment buildings, but most are quite run down and definitely wouldn’t pass safety standards back home. We continued on and ended up at the Strelka war memorial which on the banks where the Irtysh and Ulba rivers meet. Silly us, we got all the way there and they realized we forgot our camera, but I’m sure we’ll go back one of these days. While we were there, a wedding party arrived and we were treated to a rather neat scene. The bride and groom danced in the middle of the circular cobblestone area in front of the memorial while their wedding cars sped around them in a circle, honking their horns (of course, why else would horns be installed in a car?) while a videographer taped it all from the upper level of the memorial. We’re not sure if it is a tradition, or just a really neat idea. One of these days we will find someone who can tell us.
Speaking of the Strelka Memorial, it is actually a really good landmark to give you an idea of where we are staying. If you find a satellite image of Ust’-Kamenogorsk, find this memorial where the Irtysh and Ulba Rivers meet. Then, follow the Irtysh to the west about 1.5 km until you see another memorial which looks like three bent square poles in a U-shaped stone area that is at the dead end of a main street. This is the Afghan War Memorial, dedicated to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan (pictured below). We are across the street and just a little to the west of this memorial, about a block. In fact, if we stick our heads out the window of our apartment, we can see it through the trees. In fact, in the picture, our apartment is second row of windows from the right, third set of windows down. So if you’re in the area anytime in the next 7 weeks, be sure to stop on by for a cup of coffee, we’ll be here!