I mentioned that I live in a “castle”.
We’re on one of the higher floors in the building and the views of the city are impeccable when I can actually see out my window.
It gets really, really foggy for some reason. But most of the time my views look like this:
There is ONE bad view though. And unfortunately people actually live in this house.
I will get into this more later, but the picture above is probably what this whole “New City” looked like 10 years ago.
10 years ago, my area of Astana was pretty much empty. There was an existing city here, and the local people now refer to the existing city as the “Old City”. The “Old City” and the “New City” collectively make up “Astana”.
If you travel10 minutes out of the “New City”, you’re in for a shock. I thought Astana was really, really modern and nice until I ventured into the “Old City” to take Noah to the hospital the other day.
The “Old City” is enormous compared to the “New City”.The apartment buildings are disgusting and dirty. They look like World War I era factories! The poverty is evident.
I live in the “New City”. The one that Kazakhstan began building just ten years ago. Thank God f0r this, because I would have been back on that plane to Frankfurt had I stepped foot in the “Old City” for a split second when I first arrived here.
I can see the entire “New City” from my view in the Castle, but I can’t see any of the “Old City”. I assume that the government strategically built the “New City” so that visitors would never have to set sight on the “Old City”.
Weâ€™re not doing so well over here in Kazakhstan at the moment.
The kids came down with this terrible, terrible stomach virus. I thought it was food poisoning from the chicken but changed my mind after I was hit by the virus a few days later.
I don’t eat meat here often. The whole horse meat concept has turned me off all meat. I think I mentioned before that Kevin’s hockey team fed the players horse meat four times without telling them what they were eating. Tricking someone into eating a horse is just disgusting, but apparently it’s similar enough to beef that the players never knew the difference.
Well we finally got over the stomach virus (vomit central) and wouldnâ€™t you know, I come down with a awful ear infection. By the third day, the pain was so intense that I began to vomit again. I had to break out the Vicodin that I had left over from my surgery this past summer. And unfortunately the pills were left over for a reason: Vicodin makes me vomit…every single time. But I had to take something for the pain and I didnâ€™t have any options!
After puking non-stop for days on end, Kevin asks his team doctor to give me something for my ear. He gives me…an ointment. Yay, lucky me. Whatever happened to good old ear drops and antibiotics?
Thankfully, a hockey wife friend came to the rescue with some homeopathic ear infection medication from Florida. So I fought off my ear infection with homeopathic medicine, massive amounts of Advil during the day and a pain killer before bed each evening.
Just as my ears are clearing up, Noah starts acting peculiar with wet diapers.
In order for him to get into the English pre-school, he has to be potty trained. For about two weeks, we’ve been working with him on this. And for about two weeks, he has been making us change his diaper every single time he wets it, even the smallest amount.I figured that he was just realizing that he doesn’t like being wet.
But things were getting outrageous at night!! Kevin or I would have 8 slightly wet diapers piled up on his bedroom floor every morning… meaning, we were getting out of bed 8 times a night to change his diaper every time he cried for it! I mentioned this to my mom, who immediately thought urinary track infection.
The North American players have an English speaking assistant who translates everything for them. Their assistant is actually the General Manager of the team, so although he does a ton of stuff for the players they aren’t as lucky as the wives.
We have a female an assistant who doesnâ€™t have any other responsibilities and is always available to us. She’s a little bit younger than us and doesn’t mind arranging for whatever we want or need.
So I call up my Russian translator/assistant and we take Noah into the Kazakhstan hospital to get checked out.
The Russian translator knows basic English pretty well, but start throwing in body parts and medical terms and things start to get funny. Funny… as long as itâ€™s not your two year old that is in pain! So thankfully my Herbal Remedy Hockey Wife friend went to the hospital with us. She speaks perfect English and Slovakian- which is close to Russian, and is also able to help translate things quite a bit.
The Kazakhstan hospital is…well…not unspeakable, but very outdated from a Westerners point of view.
It reminded me of what a turn of the century psychiatric hospital must have looked like in the United States.
All of the supplies are military looking. Itâ€™s a very cold, detached atmosphere that would most certainly drive someone over the edge if they were in for an extended hospital visit. I can’t even describe it. For a country that can spend a gazillion billion dollars on building a brand new city, you would think they would put some money into updated hospital supplies so that you donâ€™t feel like you are walking into a Vietnam medical tent every time you get sickâ€¦ which by the way, you have to go the hospital every single time you are sick. There arenâ€™t any private practices here.
At any rate, the doctor is friendly enough (a rare find here, as no one ever smiles). But apparently Kazakhstan babies are born potty trained, because she wants me to make Noah pee in a cup so she can test it.
She saw me take off his diaper. How did she think I would get him to pee in a cup?
I try to explain that Noah still wears his diapers and will only pee in the diaper. I am talking through the assistant/translator, trying to explain that there is no possible way that I am going to collect urine from Noah. I’ve been trying to get him to pee on the potty seat for two weeks and it hasn’t happened. The doctor is getting annoyed with me and just canâ€™t comprehend why I won’t make Noah pee in a cup.
I argue through the translator for five minutes, to no avail. I was saying all sorts of things that the translator didnâ€™t understand and couldn’t translate because she canâ€™t pick up on American sarcasm: “What am I supposed to do, have him pee in the same diaper all day long and then wring it out into a cup?!â€
I was getting upset at the doctor and the translator just kept repeating â€œcollect his urine in a cup for testingâ€. I could have knocked their heads together.
Everyone was getting aggravated until I mentioned that maybe the doctor should just do a blood test to check for an infection.
Then I gasped. A blood test? Had those words really just popped out of my mouth? Weâ€™re in a developing countryâ€¦ and I just asked for a blood test?
I was instantly mortified. But the doctor agreed that a blood test was the way to go, so off we went to the front of the hospital to pay for a blood test in cash.
The walk to the front of the hospital was a blur. I was just looking all around at the less than ideal supplies and conditions while telling my Herbal Remedy friend that I couldnâ€™t go through with this blood test for Noah.
What if the needles were dirty? What if the needles infected Noah with something? I was going to back out of the whole thing. I was sick to my stomach. I was dizzy. I was about to bolt out of the door but I also knew that Noah was sick and I couldnâ€™t leave that hospital without an antibiotic for him.
I finally agreed to at least go check out the blood test situation.
As long as the needle was brand new and in an unopened package I would go through with the blood test.
After waiting for a while, we were called back into the tiny office and Iâ€™m immediately uncomfortable.
A nurse is sitting behind a plain wooden desk preparing a bunch of strange tools. She starts peeling masking tape away from this rolled up green paper towel, unrolls the paper towel and proceeds to assemble the tool.
It didnâ€™t look like a needle but I completely freaked out. That seemed unsanitary. Who packages medical supplies in paper towels and masking tape? Who knows how clean those things are?!
I tell the translator, â€œIâ€™m leavingâ€.
The translator rolls her eyes and thinks Iâ€™m overreacting. Itâ€™s not even the needle, she tells me.
The doctor is looking over at me and can tell that I am apprehensive. She tells the translator that there are no syringes, the nurse will merely prick Noahâ€™s finger and collect blood with a medicine dropper
The nurse pulls out a modern looking apparatus that is commonly used to prick the fingers of diabetic people to test their blood sugar levels and I am instantly relieved.
She proceeds to squeeze blood out of Noahâ€™s chubby little finger, and suck it up with the long glass medicine dropper that was packaged in the green paper towel. It takes much longer than expected to collect enough blood.
45-50 seconds and I was getting weak at the knees. I could have passed out, but I pictured myself being carried away on one of the ancient green army gurneys and I pulled myself together.
Noah on the other hand was happy as a clam, and didnâ€™t make a whimper throughout the entire procedure.
After the blood was taken, we were told to wait in the hospital for an hour while the lab results were being processed.
Great. Just how I want to spend an hour.
Instead of waiting in the hospital, we decide to drive around the city for a bit of shopping. More to come on the prices of things over here, but we donâ€™t shop much, because itâ€™s outrageously expensive to shop for basic necessities in this city! Case in point: Noahâ€™s $700/USD snow suit that heâ€™ll outgrow by next month. Thank goodness I bought Avaâ€™s snowsuit and coat at Baby Gap for $80 before I left the US!
When we return from shopping, we follow our translator/assistant around the hospital for 10 minutes as she tried to locate the lab. The lab was another plain room with a wooden desk, a microscope and some test tubes full of blood.
We didnâ€™t enter the room but I found it odd that we were picking up the lab results and hand delivering them to the doctor ourselves.
The doctor explained the results to my translator and then explained the results again, allowing the translator to tell me what was going on.
It took ten minutes of translations and questions to get the proper diagnosis out of the translator who wasnâ€™t sure about the terms and kept referring to a Russian/English dictionary.
The doctor is pointing to her kidneys, which is in turn making me think that the bladder infection traveled up into Noahâ€™s kidneys. The translator is saying â€œinfection not in organs in bodyâ€ so I am trying to figure out if itâ€™s just some sort of skin infection or if it’s a bladder infection!
Turns out that Noah does have a urinary tract infection but it did not travel into the kidneys. The blood work also showed that he was anemic. This is because Noah refuses to eat many solid foods, and instead drinks a ton of milk everyday which does not contain any iron.
The doctor then doles out the remedies.
1. The antibiotic for the urinary tract infection. This arrives in powder form which I have to mix with water.
2. A cranberry based syrup to help clear up his UT infection. I am supposed boil this syrup with some unknown amount of water, and force Noah to drink it out of a cup. This would be quite an accomplishment considering that he barely drinks regular juice. I try to tell the doctor this, but she just thinks I am being difficult.
3. Iron supplements which he is to take once a day for a month.
4. Droplets of something else that my Herbal Remedy friend couldnâ€™t translate. Heâ€™s supposed to take ten droplets two to three times a day for ten days. Humâ€¦.
5. And chopped up Daisyâ€™s. As in the flower. Now this is a funny one because I interpreted this wrong from the translator in the hospital when the doctor was telling me about it. The translator told me to mix a spoonful of â€œflourâ€ with water to make a paste and then wash Noah private area with it once a day for five days. I found this disgusting and told the other wives that there is no way I am following these directions. One of the wives thought maybe it worked as a pain killer. But then I received actual dried out, chopped up â€œflowersâ€ from the pharmacy and I realized this must be some sort of herbal treatment.
6. The doctor also told me that Noah is not to have any cold liquids for ten days. Not even milk.
Yeah, whatever, I will take some and leave some when it comes to the medical recommendations over here.
To top everything off, Noah got his foot stuck in a treadmill at my Herbal Remedy Friendâ€™s house. We thought it might be broken, but heâ€™s walking on it just fine and I am pretty sure it’s just a really bad bruise.
More to comeâ€¦and lots of pictures to follow as soon as I find a new battery charger for my camera!
Pat and Ellen thought it might be nice to share my experience living abroad with all of the wonderful Mompreneurs and I am more than happy to do so!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Stacy Dallman and I am the President and CEO of Nookumsâ„¢ and the inventor of Paci-Plushiesâ„¢ (www.PaciPlushies.com). I am also in the process of developing a website that will match parents of special needs children to experienced babysitters, aids, agencies and doctors. More to come on all of my endeavors later, but for now I should probably explain where I am in the world.
Have you seen Borat? Maybe not but I am sure you’ve heard of the movie. Well, Borat is supposed to be a Kazakhstan native traveling through America and in a ‘reality show’ sort of way, he does all of these funny things while making people form Kazakhstan look foolish. He really did do the country some injustice, but at least westerners now know that Kazakhstan even exists, whereas before the movie not too many of us could have placed Kazakhstan on a map.
So oddly enough, I have found myself living in the capital of Kazakhstan: Astana. I am living here with my husband who is a hockey player for Barys Astana, and my two children, Ava who is four and Noah who is 23 months.
I’ve already been in Astana for a month and it has already been quite an eye opener. We’re definitely spoiled in the US and Canada and I am missing many of the comforts of home, at the same time I am happy to report that for the most part my family and I have adjusted just fine to the new culture and climate.
This is where my blogging story begins: in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Stay tuned because I already have some stories to tell
My Super Sleuth Skills are rapidly improving and I am constantly on the lookout for competition. A few nights ago I was browsing the search term â€œPACIFIERâ€ and I came across two separate people who are hand-making their own versions of a Paci-Plushieâ„¢ and selling them on an e-bay type website thatâ€™s geared towards handmade items.
The first Offender is 100% infringing on the intellectual rights of one of my competitors. My first thought was to email the competitor to tip them off but Iâ€™m not too sure if an email to them would very well received. It is the responsibility of the Patent Holder to enforce his or her intellectual properties and in my opinion an in depth internet search should be completed at least once a month. One of my fellow Mompreneurs? pointed out that even if the offending party is not posing a direct threat to your business by penetrating the marketplace, they very well may pose an indirect threat. The Offenders products are not subjected to the same rigorous safety testing that our legitimate products undergo. The offending products are not covered with Liability Insurance and it only takes a single freak incident for the media to pick up on a story and run with it. Poorly made, untested, un-insured copy-cat products can very well ruin the reputation of a legitimate business by tarnishing a products image.
For the past two months I have been completely overwhelmed with trying to balance everyday life with starting this business. Iâ€™d been feeling down- and-out, questioning why I even attempted to venture down this Entrepreneurial Road in the first place, yet never faltering in my desire to keep moving forward with bringing my invention to the market. ?
The challenges of being a mom and bringing a product to the market are hard for friends and family to relate to, yet I somehow expect my husband to understand this emotional roller coaster that Iâ€™ve been riding for a year now and I suppose that isnâ€™t really fair to him. He knows how much work and how many hours go into my business, but he really has no concept of what I actually do when I am sitting on the computer for hours at a time. I used to get mad at him when he would roll his eyes and say â€œyouâ€™re on the computer again?â€ I would rebut: â€œWhat do you think Iâ€™m doing, playing games on here? I have work to doâ€. And weâ€™d both end up mad at each other.
Although my husband and I are both at home for the summer, we both have work to do and there are only so many hours in a day. ?He has to train for the upcoming hockey season, and he pops in and out of the house all day long, going to and coming from his various activities. It is his job, he has to be in shape for the next hockey season, and he does provide the sole income for our family. ?I know that he has to do it, but at the same time I find myself becoming a little envious that he doesnâ€™t have to take the kids to â€œhis jobâ€, yet Iâ€™m supposed to be able to juggle my business, the kids, the pets and the household. I keep telling him that normal working people have 40 hours a week of uninterrupted time to complete their weekly tasks. Heâ€™s getting sick of hearing it and Iâ€™m even getting sick of saying it! Iâ€™m not even sure why I say it because I honestly donâ€™t want to be away from my kids from 9-5 every day. Theyâ€™re only little once and Iâ€™m lucky to be able to stay at home with them and enjoy this special time. I want the best of both worlds but itâ€™s easy to become unbalanced when youâ€™re trying to do everything yourself.
Thankfully, Iâ€™ve slowly been able to drag my feet out of the fog that I was in. ?In hindsight, I recognize that our stressful move from the West Coast back to the East Coast is what tipped the scales and propelled me into such an unenthusiastic mood for eight weeks. Unfortunately, we move twice a year due to my husbandâ€™s job so I am crossing my fingers that Iâ€™ll be able to snap myself out of any pessimistic moods more quickly next time around. What it all comes down to is recognizing that a single human being can not, and should not attempt to juggle everything under the sun. ?
Soâ€¦after expressing how melancholy the last two months have been for me (without mention of the setbacks I had during that time with the factory that I am working with to bring my product to the market), Iâ€™ll move on to say that for the past week I have felt completely rejuvenated.
Maybe itâ€™s the warm weather or maybe itâ€™s elevating knowing that my little Plushies are being sewn together right now. Regardless of the origin, I entirely welcome the abundance of positive energy and vivacity.
Last week I was feeling especially high-spirited and I took three hours of alone time to put together a Five Year Strategic Growth Plan and Timeline. I cannot explain what a relief it is to have this all written down on paper instead of trying to keep all of that information in my head. Now that Iâ€™ve unloaded THAT from my brain, I feel like I am moving forward with a fresh mind-set and itâ€™s easier for me to think objectively about my business decisions when I have a â€œroad mapâ€ that I can follow.
?Iâ€™m not sure if one would classify my Five Year Strategic Growth Plan and Timeline a â€œbusiness planâ€, per se, but itâ€™s my interpretation of a â€œbusiness planâ€ and it works for me. ?I sat down and wrote it with passion and purpose and it was fun, exciting and eye opening compared to the negative, intimidating perceptions that I was holding on to about writing an official business plan. I highly recommend my version of a business plan with sweet and simple bullets and dates and objectives. I used a nice soothing font and I even printed it up in pink to add a little extra cheerfulness to the whole deal. ?Iâ€™m really excited about some of my long term goals and I wish I had a million dollars to turn all of my ideas into realities sooner, but good things come in time, and Iâ€™m ready to have a good time along the way!
Well…I’m officially moving forward with the UPC code process. Who would have thought that getting that code on your packaging would be such a process! I’ve been buying the kiddos toys and saving the tags to get an idea of the kind of information that needs to be on there…and let me just say wow, every company is different. I’ve never studied a toy tag for more than a split second in my life, now I’m collecting them!!
So what I’ve learned about the UPC codes came from Leslie (thank you!). You can’t cheap out on these, there’s only one place you can get the real deal from: http://barcodes.gs1us.org/dnn_bcec/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx. You have to fill out a form and then wait for them to contact you. I am hoping that this is sooner than later because my factory rep is after me for my hang tag artwork and information! You pay the fee (before they will even review your application) and then you are able to use your code for up to 100 products… so I should be ok until Paci-Plushies take over the world!
I’ve been in a lull with both of my businesses right now. All of this waiting feels so unproductive but I know that I’ll be moving along pretty soon here. I’ll keep you posted…
I’ve just begun my blogging adventure. My hope is that I can share with you the ins and outs of my entrepreneurial journey and perhaps make your journey a little easier by sharing in what I have learned.
Hopefully my blogs don’t become too confusing. I will try to keep to either the Paci-Plushies(TM) or TheSpecialNeedsNetwork.com for individual entries.
TheSpecialNeedsNetwork.com is about 2-4 weeks away from it’s grand launch, and I am in production with the Paci-Plushies(TM) as of April 1st!
I’m looking forward to sharing with everyone, and I will post again soon!