Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jonas's Joy at Lake Issyk-Kul

Our trip to Lake Issyk-Kul was the first time Jonas got to experience the beach. I'll let you decide what he thought of sand the first time he touched it...

Um yeah, if you couldn't figure it out, he was a fan of the sand. If that isn't pure joy, I don't know what is! Jonas also got to play on several different playgrounds. Again, I'll let you decide how he felt about that...

 When he puts his hands in his pockets like this, we call it his "Mr. Cool" look. It's almost as if he knows he's stylin'.

Our little water baby had a blast during our days at the lake. He was filled with such happiness, and we all enjoyed being outdoors and getting to know one another better. I can't wait to take him to my hometown in the future and introduce him to Lake Michigan!

Here is Jonas waving goodbye to Lake Issyk-Kul. We hope to take him back to Kyrgyzstan as a graduation present when he's eighteen (if he wants to go), so maybe we'll all be seeing this beautiful place again in sixteen years!

The Lovely Lake

Lake Issyk-Kul is the second largest alpine lake in the world and the tenth largest lake in the world by volume. It's 113 miles long and 37 miles wide, and though surrounded by mountains, it never freezes. It's saltwater, but much less salty than the oceans (I tasted it and can attest to that). It's an extremely popular place to visit during the summer, but it's beautiful year-round because the water is so clear and blue, and the mountains make a perfect backdrop. It's considered the "pearl" of Kyrgyzstan, and we can see why.

Zack, Jonas, and I were lucky enough to get to spend a few days at a resort (I use that term loosely) on the lake while we were in Kyrgyzstan. We stayed outside of a town called Cholpon-Ata at a resort called Karven Four Seasons, which has no relation to the Four Seasons chain of hotels. It wasn't fancy, but it was on the lake, it had a pool, and breakfast was included. Good enough for us!

Because it was off-season, it was pretty quiet. But that's exactly what we wanted. We spent a few hours at the beach each day. Jonas loved digging in the sand and throwing rocks in the water.

The weather was sunny and warm enough with a coat on. For the first few days, the water was pretty calm. On our last day it was really windy, and there were decent waves. The mountains were also clearest on that day.
Other than enjoying time at the beach, Jonas also liked swimming, playing on the playground, watching people bowl, eating, and exploring the grounds of the hotel. Below are just some other pictures I wanted to share of the lake.

We loved Lake Issyk-Kul!

A Drive Through Kyrgyzstan

I've already mentioned that while in Kyrgyzstan, we had a few extra days between embassy appointments, so we took a family vacation to a lake. Here's what Jonas looked like on our drive to Lake Issyk-Kul.

And here's what he looked like on the way back to Bishkek.

So I took plenty of pictures of the beautiful scenery so that someday in the future Jonas can see what he missed out on. It was about four hours each way to get to the lake, and we hired a driver through a travel agency called Kyrgyz Concept to take us there and back. I thought you all might enjoy the pictures as well!

Several hills had these types of designs and words. I'm not sure what it was about.
Our driver had to stop a few times for various sheep and cow crossings.

This guy was wrangling his stray cow off the road. His dog was going crazy!
The mountains are so huge. This is outside of Tokmok, the town where Jonas's orphanage was located.

Yeah, this view will do. Reminds me of Colorado!
So many sheep! One of these days I'll get a video attached of Jonas saying "baaa," because it's adorable.
The beautiful blue Lake Issyk-Kul with mountains in the background and sheep in the foreground (of course). Lots more pictures of us actually at the lake are on their way in a future post!

First Baths

We're not sure Jonas has ever had a bath before. We've been told that the kids were washed in group showers at the orphanage. But our boy sure loves the water! At a few of the hotels we stayed at in Kyrgyzstan, the bathroom had a bidet. This ended up being the perfect fixture to wash Jonas in after a poopy diaper. And he loved it! The only minor mishaps came when he bonked his head on the edge once (not really hard) and once reached out to turn on the water himself and it came out kind of hot (whoops!).

Jonas had his first real bath in Almaty, and he had a great time splashing in the water, playing with his toys, and getting clean. The bath he had here at home the other night went similarly well, and we'll do another one tonight. I'm looking forward to taking him to some kids' pools this summer and maybe getting a little one for our backyard. I think he'll have a blast!

Pokes for Our Poor Little Guy

Jonas had a rough day yesterday. It started with waking up very early; I think the jet lag is really getting to all of us now. He even fell asleep when I took him on an early walk around the park, and he never takes a morning nap. Zack played with the doctor kit with him to show him what was coming that afternoon, but Jonas didn't know what he was in for!

He had his first visit to the pediatrician, and it wasn't a fun one. Jonas cried while the nurse got all his measurements, but he was his usual happy self when the doctor examined him. But then he had to get five vials of blood drawn and five immunizations administered. That meant he had pokes in each upper arm, each thigh, and his inner elbow. He was not a happy camper! I'm glad Zack was there to hold him while they did the shots, because I'm not sure I could have done it. It was hard enough just watching somebody hurt my baby, even though I know it's for the best. Jonas did enjoy the popsicle they gave him afterward and the colorful bandaids though.

Jonas was definitely feeling the effects of the shots for the rest of the day. He took an extra long nap, cried much more than usual, and wanted held and cuddled all evening (can't complain about that!). You could tell his arms and legs hurt him, because he didn't want to stand and wailed when he moved them a certain way. Poor little guy. And he slept really fitfully last night, tossing and turning and waking up several times (which he never usually does). Hopefully he feels a lot better today.

The good news is that other than being little, the doctor said he seems very healthy. At 33.75 inches, he's at the 18% mark for height. But at only 23 pounds 2 oz., he's at the 2% mark for weight. Time to fatten this boy up! We'll get the results of his bloodwork within a few days, but we don't expect anything unusual there. We're lucky to have a healthy (and usually happy) little boy in our house!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

First Day in Denver

I'd say Jonas had a pretty good first day in Denver. Here's a peek at some of the things he did, starting with playtime in his pajamas after breakfast.

He rode his little red bike down the sidewalk,

played at Washington Park (just with us-trying not to overstimulate him),

got a little more comfortable with the idea of our dog Molly,

tried out the new stroller in the Colorado sunshine,

and took a toy-filled bath.

Jonas is slowly warming up to the idea of Molly. He was actually really interested in her when she first came home and even pet her after Zack showed him how, but then he freaked out a bit. He wanted held (up away from her) for most of the rest of the day, but he did help with getting her food and was okay with her walking around underneath him while he ate. There was some brief screaming/crying when she got too close or licked him on a couple of instances, but otherwise he just kept an eye on her and stayed away. Jonas did really well in the stroller with Molly walking beside him, and he loved holding her leash from there or up in Zack's arms. I think he liked the idea that he was in control of her!

Molly was amazing. Normally with visitors, she's overly excited and has to smell them, lick them, and just be all up in their faces demanding attention. But she seemed to understand that Jonas was different. She was completely calm, kept her distance, moved slowly, and didn't try any funny business. I was so proud of her. I know Jonas and Molly will eventually be best friends (Molly's already enjoying his dropped food scraps!), but our little boy's whole world has been turned upside down, so we understand if it takes some time. Tomorrow we visit the pediatrician!

Up with the Sun (Not Son)

Well, I'm up early with jet lag, so I'm enjoying the sunrise with a cup of tea and my computer. Zack and Jonas are still asleep downstairs, so I'm taking advantage of the quiet to get some blogging done.

We are home! It feels so amazing to be here and be done with the whole process. Jonas slept for almost the entire last flight. Overall, he handled our 30 hour (Zack timed it from our hotel door in Kazakhstan to our door at home!) travel extravaganza like a champ. He had a few meltdowns on the long flight, but the poor kid missed his nap and just didn't want to fall asleep. I'll do a blog entry later on how we survived.

Anyway, we made it to Denver. All of our flights were on time, we got all our luggage, and we drove our little boy home. He was singing little made-up songs in his car seat and "ooooo-ing" at things out the window on the drive before he cried for a minute and passed out.

When we got home, we gave Jonas a little tour of the house. He LOVED his room. I don't think he quite understands yet that it's all for him, but he had no problem getting right into his toy box and exploring all the toys. After our first meal together at home (HUGE thanks to Emily and her family for surprising us with a home-cooked meal left in the fridge and cookies and presents on the counter!), we got ready for bed and all passed out.

So many more blog entries to come about our days at the lake, simple pleasures that Jonas enjoys, things we've learned about our boy, our time in Almaty, etc. And today we pick up Molly, so we'll see how that goes. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Newest US Citizen

Well, he was sleeping when it happened, but Jonas became the newest US citizen upon landing at LAX! We wouldn't call it a fun flight, but we survived. One more flight to go!

Off to America

First flight done! Jonas slept for over half of it and did really well on the rest of it. We're in Moscow now and will be boarding our flight to LAX in about 30 minutes. This is the long one...14 hours. Wish us luck-this boy is ready for America!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Little Swimmer

I've got fifteen minutes out here in the lobby where the internet actually works to do a post while Jonas naps and before we leave for the embassy, so I thought I'd share some pictures from the pool at the Karven Four Seasons (no relation to the real Four Seasons!), where we stayed on Lake Issyk-Kul.

We didn't know how Jonas was going to do with swimming, so we started out slow with sitting on the edge, kicking our legs, and one of us going in while the other sat on the edge with him.
After a few minutes, he seemed interested in going to get the stacking cups that Zack was throwing into the pool, so I'd carry him over to get them, slowly lowering him into the water. He wouldn't mind at first and then would start panicking, so I'd put him back on the edge.
After a few more times of doing that, he was totally comfortable being held completely in the water. We chased down the cups that Zack would throw to the end of the pool, splashed a lot, blew bubbles, and overall had a blast. When we went back on the second day, he got in rather quickly and had another great time splashing around. I think he would have a blast in a place that had an actual kids' pool.

Jonas's favorite thing to do was make a big splash with either his hands or the cups. Zack got several attractive shots of my face after being splashed. This is the only one I'm willing to share publicly, because he has a funny face as well.

Our hotel here in Almaty has a pool too, but children aren't allowed into the spa area (where it's located). Major bummer. But we're so glad Jonas loved his first time swimming, and we can't wait to take him again!