Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Official Day as a Family of 3

Poor kid had a long day!
- We arrived at the orphanage about 11 and packed his stuff up. He
quickly said his goodbyes and gave out hugs. His new caregiver was very
emotional and gave him her whistle that she always wears to round up the
kids. He LOVES it and we are so thankful that it's been "hiding" in my
purse for a few hours!!
- He was very excited to leave and as we were walking out he said, in
English, "where is the taxi"? All the "Where is______" games have been
paying off!!
- We then stopped by the Baby House where he lived from 2-4 and said
our goodbyes there.
- Next stop was Kids Village to say goodbye to sign off on some
paperwork. This was a VERY confusing stop for Ry. When we got there,
he didn't want to get out of the car. Once it was time to leave, he
wanted to stay. He was very tired at this point and thought he was
"home". After some explanation from the translator, he was good to go
and hopped into the car.
- Then it was on to lunch. We gave away several cakes and sweets today
and at every stop, Ry said he wanted cake and didn't want to give them
away because he wanted to eat them all! We call that a "hungry fella"
in our family.
- After lunch was passport photos which he wasn't too thrilled for, but
we got them done.
- Several pick ups and drop offs along the way of misc. paperwork
- During all of this excitement, Dust had been on and off the phone
with the Embassy. The easiest/quickest trip is to Astana, but they are
only doing fingerprinting one time in the next week. Tomorrow from
2-4... So during all of the other errands, we tried to buy plane and
train tickets and explain to Ry that our first night as a family may be
on a train!!! No planes would get there in time...the train to Astana
tonight was completely full. It's been crazy!
The plans are that we have hired a taxi to drive the three Stone's + our
translator to Astana early in the morning. (About a 5 hour drive...on
what we hear are terrible and very bumpy roads). The taxi drive will
only cost us 14000 tenge which is about $94...we couldn't believe how
cheap that was...for all 4 of us! We should arrive in Astana around
lunchtime. We will rent a room at an inexpensive hotel for us to use
off and on throughout the day. Symbat will stay with Ry while we go to
handle the fingerprinting. After that we're going to check out some fun
things in Astana and then take the train home later tomorrow night. A
quick/crazy trip, but Ry is really excited to go on the train! A
private room on the train for all of us will cost about $45. We just
can't get over it!!!

- We finally arrived home and Ry was very excited to get in the
elevator and go see the apartment. He thinks we are in America now and
as soon as we walked in door, he looked around and said "Where is
- He checked out everything and kept asking if everything he saw was
his. Moi means mine? Moi? Moi? Moi? Moi? Moi? We tried to explain
that it was all of ours, but that was a little over his head.
- We rode his new scooter, had dinner, bath time & a terrible attempt
at bedtime at 8:00PM! It's now 10:30 and he's still wide awake. I guess
we shouldn't have let him have that nap in the car today!
It's been a looong day for all of us, especially Ryland! Tomorrow
should be an adventure! Dust and I are tired and I sure hope Ry gets
sleepy soon! Will post when we are back from Astana.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today is the day!!!

Can you believe it????  We can't!  We're dressed, ready and sitting here in anticipation, just waiting for the phone to ring!  Svetlana is already working on getting all of the paperwork official today and as soon as it's ready we can go and pick Ryland up!!!  We're going to stop by the bakery first and pick up several cakes/sweets/candies to take to the orphanage with us.  After we pick him up, we will also stop by the Baby House where he stayed when he was little to say goodbye to the caregivers & Director there.  SO EXCITED!!!!

Our next stop on the way home will be to get his picture taken for his passport so that Svetlana can start that side of the paperwork...and then it's finally HOME!  Well, to our home away from home!

Dustin and I are so ready and cannot believe that it's finally time!  I know that Ry is excited too and I just hope that we won't ever let him down.  I hope that we can bring half of the amount of fun into his life that he is bringing into ours.  A lot of people have told us that Ry will be so lucky to have us as parents, but Dustin and I truly believe that we are the lucky ones!!  This little guy will forever change our lives - he already has!

This day is the first day of the next chapter of our lives - wow!!

The Stone's

PS - Get on Skype so you can say hi to all three of us later!

So excited as the calendar countdown got closer!

Our Kaz cutie

Russian Bath Experience

Since I have a quick minute before today's festivities, I wanted to share my experience at the Russian Baths. I had such a good time and cannot wait to do this with my friends back home. A 'Girls Night Out' was definitely needed - and Dust enjoyed having a few hours to himself as well! 

This is the outside view of the place.  It's a restaurant, hotel, bath house, disco & they have an outdoor pool for summertime fun.  If you are lucky enough to ever get to Pavlodar, check this place out.  It's on the road heading to the airport, just outside of town.

We had a private room all to ourselves. A small pool for cooling off.

The super hot sauna (they don't mess around here)!  You stay in the sauna for as long as you can stand it and sweat out all of the toxins.  To cool off, you spend some time in the pool.  Then it's back to the sauna again!  Once you're done with all that - it's shower/scrub, face masks, etc.  I felt so cleansed & refreshed after this.
The Dining Room area (We snacked on some meat shishkabobs, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers & herbs.  They bring out a tray of fresh basil, parsley, lettuce, mustard leaves, etc. and everyone just nibbles on the herbs!

Shower/Sauna area
Cooling off in the freezing cold pool!  (Natasha, Svetlana, Me & Symbat)

Symbat & Cortney as we were leaving (our translator)

Little bit of a crisis...

We received an email from our local CIS office that is working on
updating the age range on our paperwork that will allow Ryland to
immigrate to the US. We updated our Home Study while we were back in
Texas and sent them a copy, but they informed us that our fingerprints
expired yesterday!!! So they can't issue the approval yet... We are
waiting to hear back from them as to what the heck we do since we are in
Kaz. In the meantime, we've called the embassy here and best we can
gather so far (the visa office was closed today) is that we will have to
travel to Almaty or Astana to get fingerprinted and they will FedEx our
fingerprints to back to the US for processing. They say this usually
takes a week or two. PERFECT!!!! Another delay! This holds up some of
the out processing in Pavlodar as that form is needed! Who knows how
long we will be here now...I'm beginning to think we should buy a
vacation home here!
Anyone else had this happen to them while in country?

Frustrated in Pavlodar,
Dust & Cort

PS - Everything is set as of right now for us to take custody of Ryland
tomorrow around lunchtime! Will keep you posted!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Name Is

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tea Time

Everyday during our visit to this new orphanage, the caregiver invites us into the kitchen for tea, juice and snacks. It’s been really nice to have this time to visit with her and hear stories about Ry. She loves to cook and always has a new thing for us to try. Yesterday she had this delicious torte and today she made these Kazakh pancake –like things. We’re being spoiled! Today she was telling us that all of the kids in the house call her “mama” except for Ryland. He told her that he already has a mama, but he will call her aunt. He tells the other children that he has finally found his mama & papa!

For the first time today, he called this Tea Time that we have everyday “Chai Sotka”. (Chai =tea & Sotka=cell phone). The first day when he was finished with his snack, he decided to drive his car around the kitchen, but he was making too much noise, so I traded him for the cell phone game. He now knows that after he is done eating and the adults are still talking, he asks to play with the cell phone so he is still at the table with us. Too cute! He absorbs things so quickly.

As we’re getting closer and closer to the 30th, the calendar seems to be helping more and making a little more sense to him. Today he was so excited that there are only 3 days left.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday's Dacha Visit

This is the view of dachas from off of the highway.  Each piece of land is the same size with a small one room house on it.  Very interesting for us!
This is our coordinator's family dacha.  Her mother and father work the garden every day.  The fresh strawberries and raspberries were out of this world...a whole  new approach to local/organic!!
Large view with a BBQ going in the far corner.

Potatoes & the outhouse in the back.  The fresh tomatoes were just perfect - best I've ever had.

Dust & Cort Dacha Style
Svetlana's sister (Natasha), her father and our driver (Gennady).  So excited to eat the shishkabobs!  It smelled absolutely wonderful & tasted even better!
The family was so nice to not only show us the dacha, but to prepare a meal for us!  We feasted on lots of fresh vegetables, herbs, & fruits!  They grilled shishkabobs, eggplant & peppers for us to try as well.  A nut torte for dessert and some tea made with all herbs from the garden!  It was a real treat for us!  Over our meal we were told lots of stories of Soviet times and it was an amazing experience that we will never forget!
(Svetlana, Cortney, Dustin, Natasha & Svetlana's Mom)

Before our afternoon of feasting, we worked up an appetite playing with Ry today!  Each child out there wanted to show us what they could do! A little boy came up and huggd Dustin while Ryland was on my lap and Ry jumped off to go and have Dustin hold him...he's not ready to share his parents yet!
A few more tears when it was time to leave today...poor thing - he just wants to stay with his mama & papa!  4 MORE DAYS!!!!

Love from Kazakhstan,
Cort & Dust

Friday, June 25, 2010

Count to 10

Friday's Visit

Finally Friday!!!  Not that it means much to us as everyday is the same for us in Kaz!  Today we really worked on English, which was hard because Ry was squirmish and had a hard time focusing!  Today we focused on "Where is _______ (mama, papa, the green car, etc.)".  He had a lot of fun because we incorporated hide-n-seek for every "Where".  His favorite was for him to hide and us to say "Where is Dias?" and look all over for him!

Speaking of Dias, we finally had the name discussion with him today.  We explained that in English, Mama is Mom and Papa is Dad.  He asked what his name was in English and we told him all about Ryland.  He said that he likes the name and is very excited to have the same family name as us.  He can say Stone without a problem, but he cannot say Ryland!  Leave it to me to pick a name that starts with R, the one letter he has the hardest time pronouncing; it came out something like "Loveland".  We'll keep working on that!

Everytime he gets restless while learning English, we remind him how he needs to learn English to live in America.  He instantly re-focuses and says that he really wants to learn so that he can talk to everybody.  Wish his attention span was just a little longer, but we will get there!

Tomorrow after our visit, our driver is taking us to his dacha to show us everything.  This is a piece of land outside of town where you can grow anything you want.  Since everybody lives in apartments in the city, the government has given them a little piece of land outside of town to cultivate.  This is a very traditional Soviet thing and we are really excited to learn more about it tomorrow and try some fresh fruits/veggies. 

My Russian "Baths" experience was post-poned due to the President's arrival and we have rescheduled for Sunday afternoon.

We showed Ry how to take a self pic today and he was super excited, this is 1 of about a million!
The Stone's
Learning English words - of course, he found the airplane first!

Kisses to all of our family & friends!

President's Visit

The President of Kazakhstan came to visit Pavlodar yesterday and today and it's been fascinating to watch the city's makeover.  They've been re-painting everything and planting flowers everywhere.  It really looks beautiful.  The city just put up a beautiful statue on the way into town from the airport.  Here are a couple pictures that we were able to take on the way home from our visit.

Up close of the painted rocks rurrounding the statue.


These are 3 pictures from a resort area in the Pavlodar region.  That is our white van that we get shuttled around in (or as Ry calls it, "The Big White Taxi")

Our Little Monkey

Down in the basement of his new house, there is an exerise room that they showed us yesterday.  Ry had so much fun climbing around and trying out everything in the room!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

No Tears!!

Had a fun visit with Ryland today and the best part was there were no
tears when it was time for us to leave! He just got his red, remote
control car and decided to take it for a spin! He still asked a lot to
come home with us, but even he said that it will only be a little longer
until he can finally go home.

No time for a whole post now, but just wanted to share a quick update.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Had a pretty good visit with Ry today.  We got there just as they were eating breakfast and we joined them again.  The other kids really like having visitors everyday.  The caregiver told us that last night before bed time, Ry showed the whole family his photo album.  He told them about each picture with us, where we were & what we were doing.  Cute stuff.  All the kids were very happy to get a Kinder Egg and each one had to show what surprise they got.  We played outside at the playground for a little while, but we were quickly surrounded by the paparazzi (lots of interested kids from every house).  Ry looked a little uneasy, so we went back inside his house to play.  Once it was time to leave there were tears again, but it wasn't as bad as the last couple of days.  Only a week to go!  Sometimes I think showing him the calendar makes it worse instead of better; we may try no calendar tomorrow and see how that goes...

In more exciting news, the furniture we ordered for Ryland's room was delivered and Grandma (Dustin's mom) was very busy yesterday starting to put the room together!  Thanks so much for waiting for the furniture delivery, Patti!!  Opa & Oma (Cortney's parents) had painted the room right after we left for our second trip to Kaz.  It is amazing how different it looks already!  The pink, green & white are gone!  We want to keep the room VERY simple at first so that its not too much for Ry and we will add in all the fun stuff a little at a time over the summer.

CIS Update - The CIS (Immigration) office needs more detailed info than what our Home Study had.  We need to have a couple changes made and they allowed us to just email them the changes instead of having to mail.  Hopefully we can get that fixed this week!! 

-Cortney & Dustin

P.S. - Tomorrow I am being taken to the Russian Baths for a relaxing (hopefully) afternoon!  I hear they can sauna like it's nobody's business here!  We'll see!!

The beginnings of Ryland's room!  Please note the mini leather chair that matches Papa's chair in the living room!

Main office building @ the new orphanage
Houses in the background with a large courtyard in the center

The house where Ry is staying

Tickle Time
About to go down the slide. There was mud at the very bottom so he wanted us to catch him so he didin't get dirty!
Swing Time
Such a cute boy!
Dustin & Ryland

Cort & Ry
The kids at Ry's house made us this turtle and told us it would bring us long life.  They also gave us this bowl as a gift today.  So sweet!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hard Time

It’s been a tough couple of days for the Stone fam here in Pavlodar. All of the children from Ryland’s orphanage have been sent to summer camp. The orphanage will shut down for the better part of the summer to give the staff a break. Since we only have about 8 days until we can pick Ry up, sending him to summer camp with all of the other children wasn’t feasible. The Director decided to send him to a new orphanage right outside of Pavlodar that is set up very similarly to Kids Village. (About a 20 minute drive from our apartment.) Yesterday we picked him up from Kids Village to go with him to the new orphanage. He was very nervous and didn’t understand what was happening. As soon as we got in the car, he asked if we were going to America. Poor kid... He was very clingy and had had to either hold our hands or be held. We toured the new place with him and were able to check out the new house and other children. He was very, very upset when we had to leave and cried. It was hard for us, because this is the first time that we’ve seen him cry and be so upset. It doesn’t matter how we try to explain everything to him, he just doesn’t understand. It just breaks my heart to see him so upset. He is so scared and nervous and I can’t do anything to help him understand.

What a hard summer this little guy has in store. So many changes… We wish that he could’ve stayed at his old orphanage for just another week to make things easier on him. It is what it is and I have to keep telling myself this…

Today when we got there he was very glad to see us, but he was a little reserved. He wanted to be right with us and got very nervous if one of us left the room. We played for a while and went over a lot of new words in English. It amazes us at how well he can say things and how happy he is to learn a new word and have Mama & Papa tell him “mol-o-di-yetz” (good job)! He gets so proud of himself! We joined his temp family at the breakfast table and that was a cool experience. He gobbled up his milk porridge, bread & milk. Today they served him tomato juice, which he didn’t really care for, but had a few drinks when I asked him “plllllease”! Let’s hope this sticks and all I have to do to get him to do something is say please with a sweet face! (And to all of those I work with, yes – I am capable of being sweet!!)

Time to go was rough again today. He kept saying that he wasn’t at home and that he wanted to go to his home with mama & papa. Tears came rolling down his cute little face again and it just breaks me. He had a death grip on our hands and didn’t want to let go. There were lots of promises for tomorrow to attempt to help the situation. (Speaking of, we’ve got to walk over to the grocery store to find some kinder eggs!) We went over the calendar again and it’s only 8 more days! Dust & I are so excited and he is so sad because he can’t understand! I just want to grab a sleeping bag and move into his new house with him.

The process is long and hard and I hate that the “system” won’t allow us to take him a little early, if for nothing else than to make things a little easier on the poor kid.

The bright spot, if there is one, on these last few gloomy days is that you can really see that he looks to Dustin & I as his rocks. To him, it’s like we’ve always been his parents. He loves us so much and we see that everyday. He literally wants nothing more in the world than to come be a family with us, all together. Our translator says that when we finally get to bring him back to our apartment that he will follow us everywhere. He will worry every time that we leave a room. Breaks my heart… He really is going to have a tough summer with a lot of change; I just hope that Dustin & I can make each transition as smooth as it possibly can be.

Hoping that tomorrow will be a tear-free day!

Cort & Dust

Stone Summer Plans

We plan to stay here the rest of the time until we are finally able to bring Ryland home.

Here is how the timeline kind of looks for now.

Our 15 day Appeal Period will end on June 29th. During this time we will continue to visit Ry everyday. Once the Appeal Period ends, we are able to take custody of him while we wait for the paperwork out-processing to be completed.

June 30th, we pick up Ry and he lives with us 24/7 at our apartment here in Pavlodar.

Paperwork (birth certificates, passports, exit visas, etc.) gets done and we will leave Pavlodar and head to Almaty around the 11th of July. We will take Ryland to a medical examination and have a final exit interview at the American Embassy. Fly out of Almaty and head home around the 14th of July.

Like all things in this process, this is just a “guideline”!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Having Fun

Happy Father's Day, Dustin!!!

I want to wish you a very Happy Father's Day!  I couldn't be more proud of you; you are a great dad!

Cortney & Ryland

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday - Fun in the Sun!

This is a calendar that we made for Ryland to try and help him understand when we will finally be able to take him home.  He still has no concept of anything past tomorrow...but we're trying!!  We thought if he could put a new sticker on it every day he would be excited about the countdown.  (PS - no laughing at the calendar!!  Life at home without a printer is interesting, so you have to make do!!  Dust & I both started to make a calendar on our computers before we remembered we couldn't print them!!)
Ry taking a quick break from the concert he was giving us to learn about the calendar and put stickers on yesterday & today.

He loved snacktime today with a tangerine & quickly gobbled it up!

Today's color of the day...YELLOW!  (Taxi yellow to be precise)  He wanted to wear a yellow shirt, play with the yellow balloon & we happened to bring yellow shades for today!

(Ry used his stomach as canvas for some lovely art today.  When we got there, he lifted up his shirt to show us his creation...and I totally forgot to get a picture of it!)
Family Picture!

As soon as we showed him a new water gun, he wanted to fill it up and go outside to look for bugs.  He doesn't like bugs, but loves to soak them with water...from a distance, of course!  He got in real close for this grasshoppper & we were surprised!  (I remember many a hot summer days watching my brother "hunt" for grasshoppers, too!  This one's for you, Ty!!)

He squirted Papa with the water gun once and LOVED, LOVED, LOVED being chased by us for the rest of the visit!  He laughed so hard while he was running.
After our visit with Ry, our translator invited us to join a group of her friends at the beach (river).  There was a large group and we had a great time cooling off in the river and playing games with her friends! It continually amazes us how friendly all of the people are here.  Today, everyone instantly accepted us into the group and shared food with us.  I can't say enough about all the people we've met here - we just love them!

Also - we played one game with them where everyone had to take a turn walking about 10 yards with some kind of different/interesting movement.  Dustin decided to bring a little bit of Texas to the beach and imitated riding a mechanical bull the whole way, including spanking himself halfway through!  Needless to say, he was a crowd-pleaser!!! 
Before coming to Pavlodar, we would have never thought that it could get so hot here! Today was 97 and the river was quite refreshing! (We have some lovely sunburns on our backs/shoulders now!)  Seemed like everyone in Pavlodar was trying to cool down at the beach!  We had a lot of fun and CANNOT WAIT to bring Ry here - he will absolutely have a blast!!!

Time for dinner, lotioning our sunburns & spending the rest of the evening sitting directly in front on fans!

Dust & Cort