The baby is now seven weeks old. She slept last night for 11 hours. It is great that she seems pretty content with life, but is behaving so easily that both husband and I have at times been slightly worried that there is something wrong with her. She does cry if she is hungry and stuff, but most of the time she is just happy to be around, waggles her fingers and looks around (mainly to the right). The smiles have started, and I must say, are heart-meltingly cute, as are the gurgles and baby talk that accompanies them.
Our toddler is a dynamo – constant talking, constant movement and a worrying tendency towards control freak! Ha ha. She has always been pretty seriously into self preservation and has never liked to take risks which is a relief after our second child who is a total nutter and has no idea. Having the next one be so careful about everything is quite a contrast. However, since I am quite slap dash, having to deal with a little girl who screeches “It’s not right” incessantly if one thread of her cotton socks is not exactly aligned on her foot is quite a trial at times. Though when she insists on putting the lego away herself before she gets out another toy I do not complain! I am currently trying to persuade her to use the loo since I object to having to buy two sizes of nappy and frankly find it depressing to have a production-line set up for nappy changing with one small, one big waiting to have their arses wiped. The toddler is easily capable, but has developed a fear of falling into the bowl and is plain refusing to cooperate. She will occasionally go if in the presence of younger children that she wants to show off to, but as a favour to mum and dad she is not interested.
Older kids are back at school so the house is pretty quiet for the days. I am trying to be more organized and get supper prepared in advance, organize my shopping better, waste less food and generally run a tight ship. And I have finally started to deal with the numerous boxes of stored items that I never really properly unpacked when we moved to Kazakhstan and which are now mentally taunting me with their disorganized state. I have isolated these boxes in one room now, and next week, I will impose my will on them and throw away a ton of clutter. Hurrah!
It has been quite a mental adjustment coming back to the Stan, and re-entering expat life after such a long stint in the UK. I feel as though I am starting all over again. It is one thing having a few weeks away in the summer, but having been away for so long, and having settled into such a comfortable little corner of the world with the family for weeks on end, the Kaz world feels distinctly odd. This is probably because it is pretty, darned, freakishly odd! Things here work in their own special ways.
I am already dreading the summer exodus of numerous people, followed by the autumn “friend-shopping” weeks. Lots of people will leave this year, there will be those we expect, those who have been keeping it secret and who suddenly up sticks and head off, and those whose circumstances suddenly change and have a mad panic to get out. I know my eldest daughter will be losing at least one very good friend, and possibly two. She does not know this yet. The second daughter will be bereft if one of her mates goes – they might, we don’t know yet. And I haven’t counted up yet, but there are a couple of people who I suspect might be off, and it just doesn’t bear thinking about.
I keep promising to improve my Russian and it is slowly increasing in vocabulary and style since coming back (it is much worse than when I left). I have used my text book a couple of times while breastfeeding, but more often than not, I forget to bring it with me when I sit down to feed, and it sits and taunts me from the other side of the room. Our fantastic nanny is doing her best to get the toddler to respond in Russian as well, and is much better at talking out loud to narrate every action, but it will take time and the toddler is resisting at the moment. She has taken to using a “baby” voice for many communications which is a bad sign – she is pissed off at the lesser attention she gets because of the new baby, and also slightly annoyed that her nanny doesn’t understand her every word – the only person who does is me, and that is a pure function of time spent in her company for the last two years.
The only way to create a "normal" life here will be if I can master Russian language, and so I am trying to start a Russian language "baby" group with a friend who is Russian and generally re-double my efforts at more than just "getting by" in the local lingo. Watch this space...