Karaganda is a city of many contradictions. Located in the center of Kazakhstan (map: ("Qaraghandy")), between its two capital cities, one old (Almaty) and one new (Astana--the Central Asian urban equivalent of Irvine, I'm told--built from scratch), it is a mix of Russian and Kazak, old poverty and new wealth. The casinos are rolling in to save the day, and much like North San Diego County, they bring their share of wealth--and many problems. Except for all the hokey blinking lights reminiscent of old I-15 south of Vegas, the City is a desolate industrial wasteland compared to Almaty. Winter and darkness set in early and go away slowly. When we flew in, the airport was dark, and snowy, and they don't clear the tarmac of snow. The drive to town was dark, and snowy, and they don't clear the roads either. Whatever can be hand-shoveled will be cleared of snow-- which means mostly private property.

Hot Head, Red Cheeks

Sweet baby girl is sick!!

Snack Time

When we arrived at the baby house today and picked up Aliya she was getting changed. I took over the dressing and thought she felt warm, but they wear so many clothes here it is not unusual for them to feel warm. We went to the playroom, cruised in our walker for a while and then just got unhappy. Her cheeks were beginning to look flushed and she was grumpy.

Ethan's Party

Hi guys--it's Mommy,

I was so sorry to hear about the Chargers. What happened? You must have been so disappointed---maybe they'll have another big season next year!! I'll bet they are just getting warmed up!!

"Usually" is a Word We Don't Use Here

Today was Sunday and that meant only one trip to the baby house. Aliya was dressed and fed when we arrived today. Galina was back on duty and she is most efficient!! We brought her walker into the playroom with us. They use the old rolling walkers a lot here---you know the ones outlawed by class action lawsuits in the US (where the plaintiffs are parents who let their babies roll down the stairs). She just loves it and cruises around at high speeds. She has got the side sachet going and occasionally goes forward. Between her walker rides and her crawling, she has been dubbed "Turbo" by some of the other families--where was that great advice when we were searching for a name?

Good Morning Sunday!!

Good morning Boys!! I wanted you to wake up Sunday morning and know that I love you! I'm really sorry about the Chargers game--I heard it was painful to watch--just like that Indianapolis game where the Colts won with a field goal in OT. Bummer.

More Photos

More photos have been added to each of the image galleries, at the right.

Fashion Queen

It's Sunday afternoon in Karaganda, and we only have our morning visit to the baby house on Sundays, so we're relaxing now. Bummer about the Chargers. Maybe in 2014.

Supergalactic Chiropractic

That's what I need right now. It's merely a cross-cultural observation (not a criticism, of course), but I think people would smile more (in general) if they slept on more than a box spring. Oh, my neck!!!! I've slept on some pretty crummy hospital chair/bed/sofa things after each kid was born, but this is taking it to new lows (it's NOT that I'm getting older either).

Small Steps, Big Triumphs

We "christened" Aliya Grace today. We haven't been calling her anything--except baby and Goolnaz until today, so we transitioned to the new name today. I have to admit it felt a little funny---Goolnaz has grown on me--not that much : ) --- but the caretakers say it all the time and it has grown to fit her. So switching to Aliya felt a little odd, but not for long. Once I started I couldn't stop. Tomorrow, the caretakers will be advised of her new name and will start using it with her in her room.

It is snowing

Hi Austen and Spencer!!

Today is a blustery and snowy day!! When we walked to the bakery for lunch, the snow was blowing so hard it kind of hurt your eyes. We tried to bundle up so not much of our face was showing!! We went to this cool bakery where they make this stuffed bread things. One was stuffed with hamburger meat and cheese, one had a sweet cheese--almost like a donut and one had mashed potatoes in it. They only cost about 45 cents in American money!! Daddy and Cass are napping right now and I was missing you both so much so I decided to send you a note.