This is going to be a little shorter post, and we’re going to save processing some of the pictures and video for tomorrow. Read on, and you’ll understand why…
Today started off very well. The boys woke up for good about 7:00, which means they were down for 9-10 hours. As was the case yesterday, Evan woke up early. This time, however, he showed no hesitation coming over to us to wake us up. We went back in the room with them, hoping to eek out as much sleep as possible. I think it bought us an hour or so – nothing to complain about.
We’re getting better at managing the meal routines. We’re learning that we shouldn’t mention eating until at least one course is ready. If you ask them if they want to eat, the answer is going to be yes and the expectation is that it will be right now. Taking another 10 minutes to cook the food is just asking for trouble. For breakfast, Evan started off by saying his kasha was tasty, but once I mentioned eggs, he wanted no part of anything other than eggs. We’ve also learned to pull Alex’s plate away from him after every three or four bites. Otherwise, he will shovel the food in non-stop without chewing or swallowing. I don’t know where he puts it. We commented during lunch today that it is like watching a cow chewing cud. I swear you can look at him and his mouth is empty, but he’s just hidden the food somewhere. When you take the plate away, he will suddenly be chewing his last several mouthfuls, which can last for a couple of minutes. I can’t help but think this is tied to the limited amount of food and time to eat that he experienced in the orphanage.
Even though we’re really only dealing with children, I think we’re also seeing the effects of being immersed in another language. We are both surprised at how natural it seems to speak to the boys in Russian. It may be pigeon Russian, but it seems to be working.
Late this morning we went out in search of a park to let the boys burn off some energy. They simply love the stroller. They will both climb in spontaneously, and if we mention going outside they practically teleport themselves into their seats. Unfortunately, we are seeing more of the run-down portions of Bryansk. We finally found a park, but when we got inside, we saw trash and broken alcohol bottles everywhere. It was not exactly the kind of place you want to let your kids run free. We are also noticing many more drunks and homeless people around the streets. Even though we’ve wandered around portions of town before, we’re starting to see just how poor this area really is, and how big of a problem they are having with drugs and alcohol.
After lunch, we decided that Lara would try to put the boys down for a nap while I went to the store to get more food and diapers. This is where the day took an incredible twist. As I rode the elevator down from the 10th floor, it suddenly stopped. The lights were on, but none of the buttons were working and the doors would not open. I tried to call our hostess on the cell phone she provided us, but there was no signal in the elevator shaft. I had no idea what I was going to do.
Eventually, people started trying to use the elevator. I could hear them pushing buttons, and getting frustrated. I yelled out that the elevator was not working, that I was stuck inside, and asked them to please help. This is about as far as my Russian would take me. One very uptight woman started screaming questions in Russian. I responded that I didn’t speak Russian, and so I didn’t understand, but that didn’t seem to phase her. I mentioned to pick up two questions, where was I from and how many people were with me. When I told her I was from the US, you could hear the shock in her voice. They obviously don’t get a lot of us renting apartments around here.
After about an hour, the repairmen finally came and were able to pry open the doors to let me out. Then the problem was, how to I get back to Lara and the boys. I hadn’t been able to find a staircase yet, and there was no way of knowing how long the elevator repairs would take. I envisioned Lara being stressed out from being alone with the kids, and starting to worry about me, but I had no way to reach her. I called our hostess, who was only about 5 minutes away. When she came, she didn’t seem too worried about the elevator failure, which is not so comforting for the next few days, but she pointed me to the stairs. What I was missing is that you have to go outside to a balcony, and then back in another door to find the staircase. At least now we know!
I raced up the stairs to tell Lara I was OK. When I walked in the door, I saw her standing in the hallway in tears. It turns out that she was having her own emergency. While playing with the boys, she had dislocated her shoulder. She was able to get it back into place on her own thanks to a tip from the doctor the last time this happened. She bent over against a cabinet, and dangled some weight in her hand to tire out the shoulder muscles. That got it back in, but she was not able to use her left arm. Thank God the boys seemed to recognize the pain she was in, and behaved themselves during that time. If they had climbed on the cabinets again, there could have been a real issue.
She is still in pain, but the shoulder seems to be recovering. At least she has some range of motion back. Hopefully it continues to recover over the next couple of days. So you can add these to our list of adventures in this process. I have to believe that someone reading this is going to claim we’re making it all up. We really can’t believe it ourselves. We just feel very fortunate that it wasn’t any worse. It easily could have been tragic.
We were then left with the dilemma of what to do from that point. We still needed supplies, and the boys were obviously going stir crazy. We decided that we simply couldn’t sit in the apartment the rest of the day. We were going to have to go out sometime. So, after a couple of hours we braved the elevator again. There was no real option. In an emergency, I could carry the boys down the stairs, but I couldn’t manage their stroller at the same time. Luckily, the elevator had been fixed, and the trip went off without a hitch.
We walked back down to the square where they held the parade yesterday. Our thought was that it was a reasonably clean open area to let the boys run. We let them out of the stroller, but it took them a while to feel comfortable enough to let go of Lara’s hand. When they finally did, Lara got an opportunity to test out her mom skills in public. Evan wanted to play in the fountain, and continued to splash water over himself and Alex. Without hesitation, Lara snapped him up (bad shoulder and all) for a time out in a quiet corner. I’d say she passed the test with flying colors.
What really surprised us is that Alex suddenly became bold, and started chasing pigeons around the square. Evan stayed close to Lara and me, but Alex was off and running. We both expected the opposite. We really will have our hands full with these two. The good news is that Alex simply isn’t that fast or coordinated, so we’re able to catch him pretty easily.
The rest of the day went fine. We got more food and diapers, and dinner was our smoothest meal yet. Evan still pushes his limits, but he was sitting at the table to clean his plate and drink his juice. Both boys pretty much cleaned up. We followed up with another bath (we got the requisite embarrassing video this time). Maybe we’ll post part of it tomorrow. Bedtime was slightly rougher than last night, until we realized that we have to turn the light off when we take them in the bedroom. They both calmed down and were asleep within a few minutes.
We’re turning in now to hopefully let Lara continue her rehabilitation from BOTH injuries and to try to catch up on some sleep. What will tomorrow bring?