Tuesday, September 18, 2007

An Update From Chattanooga

September 18
Update from Chattanooga
I thought I would send out a quick update from home for those of you who have followed the blog. I have readjusted back to life here rather quickly. Kokshetau seems like it is a mere memory. I arrived home on a Monday after a tearful 24 hour goodbye to my son and husband and returned to work on Tuesday. It was a good decision to dive right back into life. It has kept my mind busy and helped the days to pass quickly. I am currently still working on the nursery. The return date is set for 9-26 at 7:20 pm, and I am afraid I am making people a little nervous regarding this nursery issue. For some reason, it just felt wrong to complete a nursery before we obtained custody of a child. I kept thinking to myself, what if something goes wrong? Deep down there is a part of me that was afraid I would then be staring at a vacant room for months with no baby to fill it. Anyway, I came home from Kokshetau and went shopping for the furniture, placed an order for it, and it is due to arrive on 9-20. I know, I know, it is cutting it a little close, but this upcoming final weekend will be busy and time should fly as I “nest” for my two boys to come home.
Ethan and I have been able to communicate well. It is amazing to me that he is in a part of the world that takes two and a half days to travel to by plane, yet we can communicate instantly. We talk on the phone twice a day for anywhere from thirty minutes to sixty minutes at a time and e mail. It fills my heart with so much joy to hear my baby son babbling non stop while we are on the phone. Thankfully between the pictures Ethan sends, listening to Caleb in the background and communicating so regularly with Ethan, I still feel somewhat connected to my child. Ethan is doing a great job as a single dad. I know the days have been long and hard, but our son has grown and thrived under his papa’s care. He is now pulling up on everything and spending most of his days exploring the apartment they are in. He loves music and being read to. He is now finally taking rice cereal daily (and six or seven bottles). He has tried and enjoys squash, apples and carrots. Needless to say, he is not missing a meal. Tomorrow, Ted, our friend, arrives in Kokshetau to help Ethan out this final week. They plan to fly to Almaty on 9-21 and home as I said next Wednesday. My heart is overflowing with happiness knowing that on 9-26 this chapter of our lives ends and we start a new chapter, raising our son together at home surrounded by those we love. Well, this quick update turned into a long one, sorry, but I will send updates occasionally from home once we are settled.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Reflection of Me:For My Wife

As you all probably know Mary left last Sunday at 2:00pm. Her leaving was grueling, for her and I both. We thought that by the end of a long month together we would be ready for a vacation. Things could not have been any more the contrary. Mary and I have been together for at least eleven years and we have been married seven, but in that one month my love and respect for Mary grew more than all the others combined.

I know all of this is supposed to be about Caleb coming to Chattanooga, but me falling more in love with his mother is a part I can’t pass up talking about. I never suspected that we would miss her as much as we do. Caleb and I still go on our long walks twice a day, but they are not the same without mom. And Caleb and I still spend hours in the evening dancing to Ben Harper and Jack Johnson, but going to bed is not like it was when Mary could hold and rock him. In this case the bond between mother and child was instant. It’s obvious that Caleb is missing her as well. I think Caleb feels that I’m his play buddy, and that’s fine and all but when, he is teething and tired of all the play it his mother he wants. You can see that he is missing her during a bottle when he pushes it away and look around the room for her. It’s been hard on both of us Caleb has not stopped looking for her, and I have not stopped missing her. What I saw during our time together was my wife turn into a mother. Not just any mother, but one that has wanted mother hood for a long time, finally she is rewarded with the most wonderful child we could imagine. Mary’s leaving was tough, I remember coming back up to my room in the hotel and hearing the door shut behind me. Caleb was napping and I sat down on the couch and I began to feel the fear that I was going to be solo for three weeks, the sadness of knowing I would not see Mary for three weeks, and angry that we had made the decision for Mary to leave and go home, and the joy that I’m now a dad. All of these things at once, that’s a lot of feeling for a man, we are normally limited to one feeling at a time. I sat there for a while. Then it was time to start packing.

The next day (Monday) was moving day. Now those of you who have been in the single parent roll for any length of time know that trying to get us packed and moved while taking care of Caleb was no small feat for a day one single dad. We did however manage and we have since settled in quite well. We are on the opposite end of town, much closer to the Cottage and Cathy’s apartment. We are up on the fourth floor (no elevator), which is fine except that using the stroller is out of the question. The steps are too narrow to try and get Caleb and Stroller down them or back up. I have gotten quite good at using the snuggly that Jon and Ginger gave us before we left. Caleb seems to enjoy facing forward where he can see all that is happening. One thing that I can’t get over is that when Caleb and I go for our walks not much is said. I don’t do any talking because I don’t want to draw attention to us. And Caleb…well he can’t talk, that is until he sees a girl about Mary’s height with brown hair and then he goes crazy, he starts trying to jump off of my legs out of the snuggly, he says things like aagghh, agggghhh, and hhhaa, hahah. This in Caleb’s language mean’s “ hey look”, “look over here”, “hey there’s mom”. Caleb does not care if the woman is old or young or pretty or ugly, he only cares about her approximate height and color of hair. Needles to say the woman normally stops and begins talking to Caleb, they have yet to pay me any attention. We normally walk for about an hour we go to the fountain and stare at the water. Caleb likes the noise it makes and he likes to see the water moving.

The apartment has been a good change. It has been nice to have a kitchen as well as a washing machine. I spend most of my time reading, cleaning and doing laundry. Being Mr. mom has been an interesting change. When we first got Caleb he was not sleeping through the night, which was fine, because Mary would get up and take care of his bottles and diaper changing’s. Well since Mary’s leaving I started doing the night routine; bottle at eleven, diaper at three, second bottle at five, and up with the sun. The problem is that I had I don’t fall back to sleep, Caleb does, but I just lay there, listening to Caleb dreaming and the cars outside. After three nights with no sleep to speak of Caleb and I had a very serious conversation that looked like this.

“Caleb” I said “there are pros and cons to just about everything in life, tonight I want to discuss the pros and cons of you coming to live with us”.

Caleb said “ggggg”.

I said “ the pros are that you now have a mommy and a daddy that love you very much, you get to play with me whenever you want and you don’t have to stay here in this town you get to come back to the state’s”.

Caleb didn’t say anything he just raised his left eyebrow as if to say “so go on, give the bad news”.

I said “The cons are that I’m not getting up during the night anymore to give you a bottle” Caleb again said nothing. I said “ you might think during the night is a good time to have a bottle, but it’s not”.

I pause to give the little bugger a chance to argue but again he said nothing. “During the night when you are crying for a bottle I want you to know it is not a reflection of how much I love, or care. It’s just that I have got to start sleeping.” I asked him if he understood how much I loved him”.

He nodded his head (with my help of course).

Well no more sleepless nights for me, we both are now sleeping through the night not one single problem. It’s good we are getting all that sleep, because Caleb is now pulling himself up on to stuff. This has changed the way I spend my days. Now I’m chasing after him making sure he doesn’t break something or hurt himself. He can crawl across the floor in no time flat. I think he is learning “no”, I sure do say it a lot. I have tried to have several more conversations with him like the one above, about things like not pulling the laptop off the table, or not pulling the telephone cord out of the wall, but it has not gone as well as our early talks. He has a lot more to say during these talks, but I feel like he’s not listening. I guess that’s what it will look like for a long time. As far as his personality, I don’t think we could be a better match. He is very impatient, he wants stuff as fast as possible, I think to him the most useful letters in the Alphabet will be ASAP he really won’t need the rest. I am constantly being pushed to do it faster, whether it is changing a diaper or making a bottle, he lays there and tells me to do it faster. The good news is we speak the same language. The only time when Caleb is not in a hurry is when he is in the bath. He loves the water, our baths last about a half hour, he is clean in about five minutes but he wants to stay and play in the water. I will normally strip down, and enjoy the time when we get to play in the water. I think we will need to buy a boat ASAP.

I’m sorry this is so long and I have not been doing it more often. Thank you all for your prayer and support over the last year. For those of you that have been close you know the details of good days and bad. What the Lord has given us has been well worth the wait. Continue praying for this single dad, and Caleb’s beautiful mother, that time will fly and we will be together soon.

Caleb is doing well. He says Hi and wants you all to know he will be home soon.

From Ethan and Caleb

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Our Boy

Disclaimer: Of course I (Cat Collier) had the weekend off from the computer so by now you all may know that Mary has made it home safely. Please keep Ethan and Caleb in your thoughts and prayers. And though this is not actually the close to the Collier Family adventure, we will try and update when possible. Thank you.
September 1
I am closing in on my trip to Kokshetau. As most of you know, I leave tomorrow to begin my travel back home, and arrive in Atlanta Monday night. It will be harder than I expected to leave behind my family to return home. But, these plans were made months ago and cannot be altered now. Ethan will take over the blog, I hope he will update occasionally, we will see how much time he has. As to Caleb, he is doing fine. We think his teeth have been bothering him quite a bit. But overall, he continues to sleep and eat well. He is mobile, babbling and smiling. He is becoming quite skilled at crawling, he is moving faster each day across the room. It amazes me that he will have a big room full of toys to play with and the door stop is really the most interesting thing to him. Keep Ethan in your prayers as he becomes a single dad tomorrow. I have every confidence in the world that the two of them will be fine together, Ethan is an incredible father. I just do not want to miss a day of Caleb’s development. Our wonderful friend Ted is planning to travel to Kokshetau on 9/18 and spend the remaining time with Ethan and Caleb. We are incredibly grateful for his help. The three of them are due back in Atlanta on 9/26 assuming all goes as expected. Thank you all for following along on this wonderful adventure we have taken to start a family.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Walking Caleb?

August 30
We are closing in on the end of our day here. It is 9pm and we just laid Caleb down for bed. Things continue to go incredibly smooth. We spent another day in the hotel for the most part. I went to the “Gros” store for some groceries today while Ethan stayed with Caleb. It is about a 20 minute walk. It was nice to get out and breathe some fresh air. Also, there was a lot of activity in the square and park on the way as today is a holiday here, similar to Labor Day. So there were families out in abundance. As to Caleb, he continues to amaze us. Today he was able to stand and with our assistance walk his little fat feet forwards. This is new, as in the past he has only been able to bear weight on his legs, now he is learning that if he moves his feet forward, he goes! Also, he has discovered that turning his head to each side is great fun as well. He continues to sleep very well, every morning like clockwork he wakes at 4:50 am and takes a bottle and then easily goes back to sleep. During the day he does fuss some, but is always consolable if we hold him. Tomorrow we are going to Kathy’s for dinner which will be Caleb’s first outing besides walks. We are grateful for the prayers that have been poured out in our behalf; we sense them and feel a peace. We could not have dreamed that this process would have been this incredible.

Caleb's Greatest Days


Hello to all! We continue to be loving life here in Kokshetau with our son. Caleb is adjusting well to having two parents and to living in a hotel room. He slept through the night except for waking at 5 am for a bottle and back to bed until 9 am. He is also taking nice long naps during the day, one was three hours. His activity level is so much more than what he is accustomed to, that he is sleeping more than normal. No complaints from mom and dad. He has fussed a little with taking his rice cereal, so taking my mothers advice, I gave him apples and he ate the entire jar. Caleb is learning to laugh more and more. Last night, Ethan introduced him to the tickle monster, big success. He squealed with delight, I have attached some photos of that activity.
It continues to be very hot here that we spent the entire day inside except for one 30 minute walk. Who knew, that I would be perfectly content to hang out in hotel room for 3 days straight. Ethan and I we are passing the time when he is sleeping by e-mailing, reading and watching the first season of Frasier. We continue to try to work out in the room, but that is proving to be a test of endurance with the heat. We did request a fan for the hotel room and they were able to supply that, which has helped at least circulate the air. Ethan is on his third night in a row of Big Bon noodles, and I my 8th meal in a row of oatmeal. Do not worry parents; we are eating a piece of fruit with each meal. There are hardly any vegetables here, even if we did have the means to cook them. I have seen some carrots, onions, POTATOES, and frozen green beans. Most of the food is fatty and starchy here, so we are trying to do the best we can with what we have available. Alright, that is the report for the day.