Gotcha Day

 December 23, 2008

We got into Ust-Kamenogorsk around 2pm. The Air Astana was the first on time flight of the trip which was much appreciated since it was the one that mattered most. Arman was there to greet us and boy was he a sight for the weary traveler. He brought a friend to help driver and some how managed to fit 15 bags, 5 Printys and the drivers into the two small cars. (I guess Arman used engineering training.)

We checked into the Shiny River and it felt like we had never left. We joked over and over how our first trip was like the movie Ground Hog Day…the same day playing over and over again. We ll let me tell you since we left, that same kept going here at the River. Weird. Anyway we got the Presidential Suite plus another standard room for Aidan and Kiefer The suite is huge with a bedroom, living room, full size dinning area and 2nd room that is now Nolan’s room. There was also a crib in the bedroom, (OMG!!!). The first thing I did was check out the bathroom. Jackpot there was a huge Jacuzzi tub. Nina and I are going to have a bubble bath.

We did a quick turn around and headed to get Nina at 4pm. Dart and I along with all three boys went to break out. Poor Nolan was so tired he fell asleep almost instantly anytime he sat down including the drive to the baby house. It took a little bit to rouse him but once he figured out where he was, he powered through his exhaustion.

It was already dark by the time we arrived, like the night we first met Nina and once again we were chasing Alma through the unlit halls of the baby house. This time though the cabbage soup smell seemed familiar and oddly welcoming and the worry and fear of the first night was replaced with a sense of celebration. Alma kept asking if we were sure we wanted to take her tonight. She was being practical. I was not. Dart signed his name into a book that looked like a guest register with the secretary. We had no Officials present, showed no ID, nothing was notarized. Sign the book, take your child-hey who complaining.

We all then headed up to Nina’s room. Kiefer and Aidan each had a video camera and Dart had a still camera. Nolan had the cheerios. The door opened and Nina was called. She was wearing the same little dress she was wearing in her referral photo and was holding our photo album. There were tears and not just Nina’s but it felt happy, sooooo much relief.

We dressed her in her pink Gotcha Day outfit with the grace and dexterity of first time parents. Then we brought her back to her group to say paka, paka for the last time. What a blast 15 toddlers all excited and jumping and clapping. One little one came up to Nina and stole the hat off her head and ran for the back of the room. A half dozen lilliputians surrounded Nolan and stopped him in his tracks with hugs. A nanny was passionately wishing us a life of love. It was a party!

A few minutes later, we left. Nina cried the whole ride to the Shiny River, me too. We got back to the room and ordered some chicken soup and bread and pizza all of which Nina devoured. At least the trauma of the night hasn’t bothered her appetite. We all feel asleep by 10pm. Nina slept on my chest and I tried to stay awake as long as I could to enjoy it.

By 4 this morning I woke up to this beautiful baby sleeping (as only a toddler can do) on her tummy but in the air and perpendicular to the bed. I left to write this post (ahhh jet lag) and when I came back, I found Nina in the dark, sitting straight up in our bed, staring at Dart. I had to laugh, it was like she woke next to a sleeping bear.

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