Today was a free day with no adoption-related tasks. The new Kosofsky Family decided to grace the local park with its presence. Unfortunately, Owen didn't have a great morning - acting very ornery and tired. He had a major meltdown when I forced him to allow me to put on his shoes and even gave Tracy some 'tude. I should have known things wouldn't go well when the money exchange office was closed due to technical problems. The plan was to get money, go to the park, and then stop at the grocery store to pick-up a few things. Now, I would have to walk to the bank and then walk in an entirely different direction to the store. Still, we pushed on and walked to the park. It was a beautiful day and Owen seemed to enjoy going on the slide. However, he really never warmed up and didn't appreciate it when I wouldn't allow him to eat dirt - I know I'm a terrible helicopter Dad! Tracy had had enough as Alexa was also in a bad mood, so we went back to the hotel all a little grumpy. Alexa is generally good with Owen but is clearly a little jealous of the attention. This morning Owen was working his way off the bed and Tracy asked Alexa to help him - her help was letting him fall to the ground face first! Lots of yelling and crying followed (by kids and adults respectively). Once things settled down, I headed out on my walkabout as naps seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
The hotel manager gave me directions to the bank saying I would see it on the way to the Metro station - plus I asked about a grocery store and was told I would see it as well. So I setoff with grand delusions of a short walk and two successful transactions. I found the sign showing the different exchange rates and turned to look for the clearly marked door to the teller. If you've never been to Moscow you can't appreciate how much some places of business work NOT to advertise themselves! The door under the sign was dark gray and blended in with the surrounding wall. It was the only door within 30 feet, so I gave it a try and it actually opened. In my mind, finding the door should have been the last hurdle before my success transfer of dollars to rubles. Instead, I was looking at an entry area with stairs going up and down. There were 2-3 unintelligible signs with no indication where to go. A man was standing in the stairwell and I bravely looked at him inquisitively saying "bank". Seeming to understand me perfectly, he pointed down the stairs. Again my optimism returned and I headed down...where I found 3 more doors that didn't open from the outside. Ugh! While looking back-and-forth between the doors, a voice came out of a speaker in Russian of course. The person was obviously telling me to do something, so I pushed some steel buttons on the door producing the voice and tried the door. No luck. Eventually, I heard that typical buzzing noise that alerts you that a previously unopenable door well now comply. Another man came out of the door and I went in...to see a teller type window that clearly did not perform my intended transaction. The man behind the glass started talking to me in Russian and I gave him the international signal for "I'm a stupid American walking around your country with basically no knowledge of your mother tongue and expecting everything to workout because the world is a friendly place that can't wait for yet another American to visit and expect everything to work like it does at home" (i.e. I shrugged my shoulders, tried to smile, and pointed to my mouth). And thus came my worst moment ever in my five trips to Russia - he gave me a disgusted look and performed the "shooing" gesture. Fortunately, I didn't act like some Americans I've heard about traveling abroad. I quietly made my exit knowing that he was totally entitled to the opinion he had of me and hoped I would find a bank. Another block down the street, I found such a bank with nice glass doors and the kind of tellers I was accustomed to! The teller was friendly and gave me the correct currency. My optimism was restored and I headed for the grocery store. I won't give you all the details but essentially the store near the bank was a little convenience store and didn't have what I needed. I walked another 20 minutes to the store our coordinator recommended and had an excellent experience with friendly employees and successful purchases. With that, the great part of the day started...
When I got back to the room, Alexa and Owen were out cold after an abbreviated lunch. Tracy let Owen cry himself to sleep because he obviously needed the sleep, but apparently it was some momentous crying and screaming! Tracy fell asleep a few minutes after I returned so I went down to the lobby to check email. When I went back up, I was exhausted and took an hour nap until Owen woke-up (Alexa is a little under the weather and stayed asleep for awhile plus fell asleep before everyone for the night). I fed Owen and he ate his lunch and most of dinner too. The signs boded well for the rest of the day and Owen delivered!
Owen has really warmed-up to Tracy, which is natural for a boy who may never have seen a man before I walked into his orphanage. I can honestly say I was a little jealous at the way Owen walks up to Tracy asking to be held and will smile at almost anything she does. That isn't to say he never lets me hold him or never laughs when I do something amazing. However, if Owen is upset or needs some affection, then Tracy is the go-to parent. Today I felt a much better connection with Owen! He seemed to be looking for me more and laughing more often and easier at my antics. I've found that not trying too hard works better and just allowing him to make a lot of eye contact while approaching me when he wants.
The highlight of the day was bath time! In the last 24 hours, Owen's balance and tolerance in the bathtub improved exponentially. After a few minutes, he could walk around and successfully sit down and stand-up (something he does almost non-stop). He also loved Tracy pouring water on him and didn't mind the washing at all. The first time he slipped and went under water (well the water was only three inches deep so it was mainly up to his ears) he thought it was hilarious. By the end of the bath he was purposely falling and rolling in the water - this from a baby that was screaming bloody murder two days ago when the water touched his toe! We have tons of pictures and video to be posted later...
Once again, I've gotten carried away blogging. Can you tell I just recently got custody of my baby boy?! Oh, if some of you are wondering why no pictures have been posted here, I've been putting them on Facebook since loading them is slow here and I'm terrible at formatting the blog with photos. I'll take that on when I return home (or this can be your incentive to join Facebook!). Tomorrow I go to the US Embassy for a brief visit and then we'll probably do some more exploring.
2 weeks ago