Saturday, July 12, 2008

Week One

It’s hard to believe that Max has been with us for only a week. All in all things are going very well and Max has made great strides breaking his new parents in. Max continues to sleep well and is generally rather easy to put to bed. He continues to play hard and is doing very well stacking his cups by himself. He loves to play catch with his Dad and loves even more to be chased around the apartment. Unfortunately though, he doesn’t like to wear socks and the harsh carpets are doing a number on his soft skin. We’re trying to keep either socks or footie pyjamas on him, but we’re in another heat wave, so we’re trying to figure out the lesser of two evils.

He seems to be cutting more teeth, we think molars this time, so from time to time he’s a little cranky, but snaps out if it rather quickly. We’ve tried the baby orajel, but when he’s fussy, the last thing he wants is someone sticking anything in his mouth and in the end we all end up more upset than soothed. (Another catch 22) Meal times are probably our trickiest time of day. Max can be a good eater but can also be hesitant to take the first bite and sometimes won’t even eat the things he devoured the day before. However, he is certain to eat bread and anything that resembles bread, so we keep a lot of that in stock. We know food fussiness can be typical toddler fare especially with all the changes he is experiencing, and keep telling ourselves that at least he is eating something every day and he definitely won’t starve. It will take time for us to introduce new foods and will probably take even longer for him to try them. So far, we know it’s yes to bread, pancakes, oatmeal and French toast, no to spaghetti, macaroni and perogies, and maybe to applesauce, yogurt and rice.

We have tried to get out at least once a day for a walk. Max enjoys his stroller and is excited to see when we pull it out. He can hardly wait for us to put his shoes on before he’s trying to climb in. This is good, because it is a real lifesaver when you have to walk everywhere. He’s happy to ride around for about 30-45 minutes so long as we keep moving. We’ve also tried the baby carrier on the cooler days and it works for short bits, so it should come in handy when we’re getting on and off the plane, but he probably won’t tolerate it for much more than that.

Here are some of the new sights we’ve seen during our daily walks over the past few days:

An absolutely amazing Catholic church. The roof is real gold.

A couple of the apartment buildings along the river that are undergoing renovations. The purple one appears to be just started and the other has had most completed so that it looks like a new building until you look more closely.

This barn shaped building caught our attention because it is so different from the typical concrete rectangles that you typically see. It appears to be an automobile garage, with service bays on the bottom, but we’re not sure what the upper level is used for.

Along the Ulba River enjoying the cool breeze, but not the glaring sun.

As we wind our way along the streets of Ust we see much evidence of a much better time in its history. There are many well built playgrounds scattered throughout the city, but time has not been kind and many are quite run down. The same goes for the buildings. New buildings are plunked amongst the old and condemned. However, there is much evidence of the city and economy rebuilding. There is much work being done in public spaces and many buildings being given a face lift. Roses are planted everywhere and seem to grow very well here.

We are always impressed by the resourcefulness of the people of Kazakhstan. Little is wasted. When a building is being demolished, bricks are painstakingly conserved for another use. Brooms used for sidewalks are made from bunches of twigs bound together with twine. Grass is cut with a scythe rather than a mower. Rather than buying a new cloth end for a mop, an attachment is used that allows one to make a mop out of rags. As always, there are many lessons to be learned.
The mix of old and new also strikes us on a daily basis. As you walk down the street you see many cell phones, fancy cars, SUVs, high heels, designer clothes, but then you see a car, bus, ambulance or an old motorbike with a sidecar that looks like it just drove out of an episode of M*A*S*H*. Although we’ve been here for 7 weeks, it still catches us by surprise.


The Willners said...

Hello German Family!!
We are all so happy that you guys are doing so great! Your pictures are so great and we can't wait to see you when you come back to small town Saskatchewan! Max could not have been accepted into a greater family than you guys!
The Willners
P.S. Riders are doing great!!!!!

Nathanaël said...

Yes, great description of the life here, the people, 'waste not want not' attitude, the scenery, construction and architecture.
We agree that the great Catholic church is very beautiful, and a shame that it has been under construction for over 10 years, and still not in use. What we did not know, if that the roof is actually made of pure gold? Very interesting. Much like many of the teeth we encounter on a daily basis... ;)
Surely if you have been taking daily walks with Max, and you were just in our corner of these woods, Max must have dragged you into the very large kids park!? The one by the river, up the road about 1 block from the church!?
Absolutely fantastic, with endless possibilities for the kdis there!
Can't wait to play in there ourselves.

BTW, love the MASH tag. Very suitable!

Nathanaël, Isabelle and Andrei.