We've made it through the weekend and we're all still in one piece. We stayed in the apartment on Saturday with Craig and I taking turns to go out for groceries and to get a little break from the boys. Oleg came over and talked with the boys about safety, the size of the city (2 million people), and the importance of staying together but none of us were convinced it would guarantee that Madiyar would stay with us if we went out. Even Madiyar seemed to be reluctant to go outside; he told Oleg he didn't want to go anywhere, that he wanted to stay in the apartment and watch TV until we leave for America. Even though he won't admit it (he's 13, after all...), I suspect he's intimidated and overwhelmed by the much larger world that sits outside our apartment door today as opposed to the small town of Ridder that he's used to. Anyway, Oleg left, saying he would call us on Sunday to see about taking us out for some fun.
Given our being cooped up in the apartment, Saturday was long but we got through it without too much drama, just some minor squabbles between the brothers and some sulking from our moody boy when we intervened. I found the day tough mostly because I was running on too little sleep again...I've been waking up at 4:00am or so each morning, putting in 18 hr days and running on empty. Sleep deprivation is an ugly thing...it saps my reason and my ability to cope. Right now, since I'm the go-to person for communication with our new sons, that's a bad thing for all of us...so Saturday night, I told the boys that I was going to bed early and they should ask Dad for anything they needed. I closed our bedroom door, read a while, then fell asleep before 9pm.
When I woke up Sunday morning, I could smell breakfast cooking and I heard quiet talking...but no TV. The boys were awake and Craig had made them breakfast. He said he expected them to turn on the TV but they didn't even ask. They were whispering because Mom was sleeping...and when I got up, they both gave me hugs before asking if they could watch TV if they kept the sound low. Wow...what a nice start to the day!
Our day got even better, too...around 1:00, Oleg and his wife picked us up and we went to the new Megacenter, a huge European style shopping mall. (When Oleg told him where we were going, Madiyar was reluctant to go along...but when he saw the place, his reluctance evaporated.) This place was amazing! It's multi-level, it has tons of stores, restaurants, a food court, even a grocery store...so why was this overstimulation palace a good place to take our boys? Because it also had the thing they needed most...a chance for them to get some exercise. First they had two turns each on the climbing wall; Madiyar got a bit nervous and only went part way up each time but Aniyar was fearless, going almost to the top both times. Next they went ice skating; Madiyar clearly knows how to skate and zoomed around the ice for most of the 30 minute period. Aniyar is obviously a beginner but he had fun and was beginning to get the hang of things near the end. After skating, we all needed a snack so we went to the food court. (Dad and I were thrilled to be able to get lattes!) Next, we went to Babylon Magic Park, a videogame and amusement park right inside the mall. The boys ran through the huge climbing maze twice and emerged dripping with sweat and grinning, then it was on to videogames. We finished our outing with grocery shopping (still in the mall), buying food for our dinner and some treats for the boys. Even Oleg and Natasha were having trouble controlling the boys in the store as they begged for everything that caught their eye but when Oleg told them we needed to go home, they didn't argue or sulk. We arrived back at the apartment about 6:00pm, tired but happy and much less stressed. As Craig unlocked the apartment door, Madiyar grinned at me and reminded me that we'd be flying to America in a few more days, then the boys carried in our groceries and unpacked them for us. Dinner was quick and easy, no arguments about bedtime, and they were out light the proverbial light, tired from all the exercise.
It's now Monday; we all slept in and are being a bit lazy. The boys wanted to call the boarding school in Ridder so we dialed up the main office there; it was a pleasure to see their faces light up as they spoke to the director and passed on messages to their friends. When they hung up, we got hugs from them both...we can see how much this contact meant to them and we're already figuring out how we can let them call from home. We've bargained chocolate bars in exchange for a bath so the boys are clean. We've just finished lunch and the boys are alternating between watching Clone Wars and playing GameBoy. This afternoon, we hope Nikolai will come by to help us get out of the apartment to break up the day.
We're getting closer to going home, only tomorrow with nothing to do but wait. Wednesday we'll be busy with our visit to the US Embassy (I love going there and talking with Americans...not to mention it signals the end of our process!), then it's packing for our flight. We leave on Lufthansa's 2:35am flight on Thursday, Wednesday afternoon at home in Salem.
Kate, Tanya and Max--We miss you guys so much and can't wait to be home with you all. Laura, our fabulous surrogate mom—we love you to pieces for staying with the kids and hanging in there during our delays. For the rest of our village who are helping to raise our kids in our absence, we send our heartfelt thanks for bringing our kids home from school, taking them to piano lessons, helping with homework, etc.--we owe you big time!
Will try to load pics with the next post...more later.