Posting from: MarKuel, Khabarovsk, Russia
Local time: 3:15 pm, Thursday September 14, 2006
Weather: Perfect. Warm sun, cool breeze, no mosquitoes.
First, happy birthday to Jamie’s Dad. You can figure out which one he is.
Two excellent days in a row, if you don’t count the crash and burns of last night when many cards were lost and tears were shed. The cards are working beautifully.
Today Jamie got up with the kids and fixed them oatmeal and let me sleep in a bit. My hero.
Then we took our new shortcut (details at the end, worth reading if you are coming here) through the playpark where I brided them to pose for Mama and then to the tram and rode past Lenin Square and up to the train station, just for the ride.
At the train station we got off and took more cute pictures and then walked down to the Central Market, which is also known as the Chinese Market, though every Asian person we met there was from Vietnam. We bought the children some little wallets to keep their privilege cards and kopeks in, as well as some cute gloves, as the wind was chilling their fingers.
Right as we were about to enter the Amethyst Hotel for our first restaurant meal with the children, Andy started to express a lot of anxiety and worry about lunch arrangements. The Amethyst staff speaks English, so we just opened the door and the nice lady translated for me while I explained that he does not need to worry about meals as that is Mama’s job and I won’t forget my job. Then we walked into the restaurant and sat down. He was rather impressed.
It is really hard for him to rely on us; he is so accustomed to being self-reliant. Yesterday I took his precious toys that had come from the orphanage with him and tucked them into my apron pocket as his sister was moving in on them. He panicked and wept. We went downstairs for translation and I told him that I knew they were special and important and I was keeping them safe for him, just like I keep his baby photobook safe for him. He was visibly shocked and amazed. He had thought I was stealing them. From then on, he brings me his treasures to keep safe for him. Today he let Papa take his precious new wallet and look at his cards and kopeks and stayed calm the whole time, trusting that Papa would give it back. This is a big scary step for this boy who has had to take care of himself. The orphanage staff feed and housed him, but no one worried about the small treasures that mean so much to little kids.
So, the restaurant. We have to eat in restaurants in Moscow so we thought we had better practice. The Amethyst is small and we like the food and we are comfy there. Andy and Julinana did quite well especially in the areas we have been working on. Juliana did not wave her knife and fork around in the air above her head. Neither child got out of their seat. Juliana clicked her fork on her plate for more food only a few clinks before she remembered and said “Please Mama.” Nobody played fussy food games. We had cabbage rolls (we really like these), potatoes, pelemini soup, bread and cheese, salad, and blini. The waiter was visibly surprised at how much the children eat. We are still surprised, and we see it every day.
After lunch we walked through Lenin Square and got nicely wet when the wind carried the spray to us. We cajoled a passerby into taking this nice picture for us.
The short easy way to the tram: leave the MarKuel. Turn right and head. downhill. When you get to the bottom of the hill, turn left and walk uphill past the store with the green frontage. At the top of the hill you are at a busy street. Turn right. When you see the tram tracks you are getting close. Wisely and cautiously cross the street. Confirm that you are getting onto the right tram (use the map you bought at the Amethyst Hotel). Kids are free.