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Yalta Port

Even though we are the happy and official parents of Liliana (champagne all around!), we are still bound by certain rules.  We have to observe the visiting hours, but now we can take her “off campus,” which we do today for the first time.  She’s in shock.  So many cigarette butts to examine; so little time.

We take her to the government center plaza first–the place we’ve sat many an hour waiting for our translator to return with the needed documents.  There are flocks of pigeons and sparrows that the children love to chase, and the way the birds lift up in unison takes your breath away.  She’s hesitant at first, but soon she ventures into their midst.  She learns that if she slaps her shoe on the ground, just so, the birds flutter away from her.  She’s so serious.  This is all so new to her.  It’s a treat just to watch her studying the whole cause and effect thing.

We stroll along the Naberezhnaya where the large ships are docked.  This is the kiddie entertainment center, if there ever was one.  Liliana watches kids slide down huge inflatable slides.  She watches kids zip around in those battery-powered cars–skateboarders, too, flying past the huge statue of Lenin.  Through all this, she keeps on trucking to the next thing.  The thing she does stop for is a small folding table manned by a radio crew.  She starts waving her hands to the music.  She walks right up to their neon-colored poster, touches it, and starts dancing.  This is so candid-camera funny.  She’s like an old woman dancing.  So serious in her movements.  So serious in her attention.  We just watch her doing her thing…and try not to laugh.

Liliana doesn’t cry today, but she does pout.  When she doesn’t get her way, she drops whatever she’s holding, stops, and holds out limp arms, like she’s helpless.  That’s one thing that’s not going to fly with us.  So we say, “Nyet” firmly and ignore her.  We hope she’ll understand.  Even with her stubbornness, I know why she’s doing it, and I know it will go away–some day. I’m all too grateful that she has an opinion.  I want her to learn how to channel that energy into something worthwhile.  I want her to learn to express herself, using her words (once she can communicate with us!).  I want her to learn that some opinions are worth holding; others are negotiable.  I want her to learn to listen to what others have to say, then decide, given the information, if it makes sense or not.  You get my drift.  I want a thinking child.

Last thing of note: Dan is staying until the final departure date! We’ve decided that although our money is being depleted quite rapidly (indeed, we’re overspent as it is), we know that money could never buy back the experiences he’d miss.  So, we’ll manage, and Dan will be here until the end, which is still 3 weeks away! Have I said that already??

Also, if you’ve noticed that we look the same in all the pictures, it’s because we were very smart and packed light.  We each have two outfits to our name.  Very clever, don’t you think?  What we couldn’t have foreseen is that our 3 weeks would turn into 6 1/2.  Unbelievable.  Now the weather is getting fallish (is that a word?), and we’re going to have to break the piggy bank again and get some fleece jackets or something.

This trip has been a comedy of errors, minus the comedy.

But we are falling in love with our child with all her lovely quirks.

Thank you again, all of you, for your wonderful notes and thoughts.  It’s better than all the chocolate in the world, and that’s a whole lot!

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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