Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Note from Daddy, to my Little Ones

This was posted earlier under another topic - just wanted to split it off so we could find it easier in the future.  There are two new posts below, but read Amy's first...

The blog has been a wonderful way for Amy and I to share our experiences over the past week, and based on some of the comments, it seems to be interesting to those that are following along as well. While typically we are writing to all of you, this one is focused on three little ones that mean the world to me. Of course, as always, all are welcomed to read and comment.

First off, to my oldest son Connor (this is the first time I’ve been able to say oldest son), I’m so proud of how well you are doing at home while we are away. It is exciting to hear that you scored a goal in your first soccer game of the spring season! It shows that you have been practicing hard, and you must be playing well with your new team. I just hope that you are having fun and always trying your best.

I must also admit that I can’t stop smiling when I think of how well you are doing in Karate. To hear that you just sparred Caleb (the toughest orange belt around) and scored a three point head kick is amazing! And knowing that you are also breaking boards, I better get exercising so that I don’t get completely whipped when we are able to spar again soon.
I miss our bi-weekly haircuts together, followed by our Starbucks ‘treats’. I doubt that I’ll be able to hold out until I return to get my noggin shaved, or I’ll look a bit like a hippy (ask Papa what that means), but I’ll sure look forward to heading straight for the nearest coffee shop when we return. It’s so comforting knowing that I have such a mature young man watching over Lana and Buckeye while we are traveling, so thanks (Spy-see-ba), and miss you. Love Dad.

To my rambunctious little daughter Lana, I hope that you can delay the back flips long enough to hear this note. I’m so encouraged by your genuine interest in the new baby that I’m often startled by your questions and awareness of the situation. I was hopeful that you both would be interested in the process, and certainly in the prospect of having a baby brother, but never would have imagined that you would have grasped the details as you have. So to your earlier questions, yes, he’s doing well. Yes, he has brown hair and brown eyes like you. He’s ticklish like Connor, but has ‘robust’ cheeks like you. And he has plenty of unique qualities that we’re still getting to know.

I was disappointed to hear that you caught a cold this week and that your soccer game was cancelled. Based on how your practices have gone so far, I know that you will do very well. Size isn’t a concern, as you tend to be twice as quick and nearly so in competitive spirit as the rest of the field. I also miss seeing you at gymnastics, but Grandma T assures me that you continue to “tear’em up”. It’s magical watching you play at a sport in which you truly excel. Your mother and I both hope that gymnastics can hold your attention, as this seems to be a venue you could go very far. Let me know if you get to the top of the rope again this week. Love you and miss you, and please continue to watch over the big fuzz-ball.

And to the newest member of the Moore household (name soon to be unveiled to the world), it’s been a wonderful pleasure getting to know you these past few days. Someday you will read about the challenges that your mommy and I had to overcome to find you. Just know that after meeting you, those issues seemed quite trivial, and if necessary, we would have made the trip a million times.

From our initial meeting, you have been bright eyed and inquisitive. Contrary to high stress environment that we have been thrust into, you always have a calm demeanor, as if you are the one evaluating us rather than the other way around. I certainly hope we meet your standards.
While I hoped that the ‘getting to know you’ stage would go relatively smoothly, I felt that there would be an awkwardness of having ‘bond’ with a stranger in a strange land, under a very controlled and regimented schedule. So ok, the regimented schedule and fact that we are contained to a single room is very confining, but you have been absolutely great. You seem to let your personality shine through quickly, and you have a very easy going style that is comforting (not to mention that you haven’t fussed once – or peed on me yet, thanks!). In fact, I’d say that you will feel right at home with your new family, and I can’t wait to introduce you to your brother and sister. They are certainly going to find you interesting! Just be aware that the creature called Buckeye may look like a Yeti, but is actually just a really, really large dog. Don’t worry, Lana controls him. Love you son, can’t wait to visit again tomorrow.

Miss you all, and can’t wait for the family to be together soon. Love, Daddy.

More Dinner Related Fun

Jesse here…

Just wanted to add a few comments regarding our restaurant experience last night (it’s now Tuesday morning for us -- read Amy's note below first). Amy and I have tried our best to integrate with the culture and fully experience life in Shymkent as much as possible during our short (ok, maybe not so short) stay here. This includes learning at least some of the basic Russian phrases to help us become self sufficient and somewhat independent when heading off to feed ourselves. Last evening I discovered we have been over-thinking our approach all along.

While at Address, the very nice waitress provided us menus that were, of course, completely in Russian. After noticing that we couldn’t read the menu, she helpfully ushered over another waitress, who immediately proceeded to rattle off the menu in what I presume was Kazakh. Not wanting to be rude, we waited for a pause in her presentation, and then politely mentioned that we hadn’t the slightest idea what she was saying, as we spoke Angleeski. Laughter abounded.
So, she then pointed to a dish on the menu, and said what sounded a bit like ‘chken’, and flapped her ‘wings’. Ahh… chicken.

I follow her lead. I point to the next picture, and say ‘Moo?’. She smiles, but shakes her head. Nyet.

‘Baah…’, I reply. She giggles, and gives us the thumbs up. Lamb it is.

She points to the last dish and repeats the ‘Moo’. Beef. Got, it.

See, ordering from a Turkish restaurant in a Russian speaking country isn’t so hard, is it? I just can’t wait to order pork!

Amy here: I’m ready to crawl under the table and hide my face while this game of “Old McDonald Charades” is going on.

Monday Night Update

Its Monday night here and Jesse and I met our match this evening… we went in search of a Greek restaurant Zhenia told us about. After walking around the place a few times trying to figure out where to go in, we see two young men standing outside and they motion us into a restaurant. There is nothing Greek about it, it looks like an upscale sushi restaurant. I have a very wimpy sushi palate, a fresh spring roll suits me fine and that’s about it. Jesse has now perfected the “do you have an Engliski menu?” question in Russian…NYET! No English and no pictures on the menu. Oh No. I start to panic a little… a sushi place is not where you want to take a wild guess at what to order. I start envisioning them bringing out something live with tentacles. I’d rather eat horse meat! We decide to leave and save that restaurant for another day (or another year as far as I’m concerned).

Instead we went to Address, a local Turkish restaurant. The food is great but later in the evening it turns into a scene from the Sopranos. Every man (and it’s only men) that walks in gives every other man in the place a pat on the shoulder and a handshake. They sit and smoke and drink tea together. I wish I could understand what they were saying … well maybe not, I wouldn’t want to know the name of the poor guy who’s going to get his legs broken.

So now we’re back at the room preparing for movie time. We brought about 30 DVD’s from home. At night we position the laptop and external speaker between us on the bed and enjoy our English entertainment. Coming from a home with two huge HD TV’s, I’m surprised at how happy we are to watch our movies on this tiny screen. Ahh Kazakhstan.

We do watch some local TV. They have Cartoon Network here and today Scooby Doo was on, in Russian. Oh and we saw Dora the Explorer on TV in Russian, but here she speaks Russian and teaches Spanish words instead of speaking English and teaching Spanish words. It cracks me up to watch it for a few minutes. We also like the Euro Sport channel. Today they had on a Karate tournament. We found ourselves torn between who to root for, the Russian guy or the Kazakhstan guy. Only a problem in the Moore family, good thing there wasn’t an American team as well.

And to save the best news for last we had a nice visit with “The BOY”. Today is the first day we got some recognition from him when they brought him into the room. I’m sure he’s thinking, “Oh, hey look that goofy American couple is here again today. “ We gave him a bit of a workout by forcing him to crawl or walk to his toys instead of handing him everything. It’s helping – he’s getting stronger and stronger each day.