30 December 2008

2008

Remember votemom cheering things on last January with
2008 is the year for Kate!
?

I guess 2009 will do just fine. ; >

Although, as is obvious by the bovine craze here, next year is the year of the bull in whatever calendar that is (Chinese?). And, frankly, I think I've had enough bull already. How can there be more? A whole year dedicated to the bull seems a bit much.

That's right. I keep forgetting. Segues are for children.
--my friend Suzanne during innumerable conversations.

As I was driving home from the orphanage today (Yes, yes--but those posts need to percolate. First they have to be treasured up in my heart. Then I can share.) I was thinking back to last year, when I brought dolls to my girls in 3.10. They have grown up so much this year!

And, I can honestly and truly say that I am grateful not to have had d2b home in 2008. This last year with these girls...was a privilege and a delight. It was a gift. Being with them breaks my heart and then fills the pieces with joy...over and over again.

29 December 2008

heroic

During the great internet debacle of winter 2008, our heroine received word from her agency that the rep in her chosen region (chosen FOR HER, mind) was requesting two more bits of paper from the local municipality. Those two bits of paper would require every single piece of documentation already filed. ALREADY FILED.

Our plucky heroine groaned aloud and then gathered her resolve. She electronically mailed the assistant to the mover and shaker (becuase mover and shaker has been persistenly absent) at her agency and requested either another region or that the doucments already submitted be used for this latest request. Our heroine met with a wall of resistence to changing regions. Since "no one was in line in front of her in this region" the wait, she was told, would be shorter. Assistant m&s failed to recognize that waiting for recompilation of documents was still waiting!

Using a secret signaling device, our heroine contacted the rep in her city of residence, Super G. Super G, bless her a million times over, declared this latest request "useless" and was indignant. Super G and our heroine had already discussed this with the local municipality prior to the last home visit. Municipality woman had declared that it was not necessary to do everything twice.

Armed with this quote about the uselessness of the request, our heroine proceeded to telepathically (or telephonically) contact the asst. m&s who basically said, "Oh. Okay. I'll see if you really need this. If you do I'll send you paperwork for another region." Heroine arranges to contact asst. a week from Wednesday.

Our heroine claims this as a triumph, tosses her cape into the hamper and prepares for bed. For tomorrow there will be more battles to fight...and a good night's rest is her secret weapon.

*Happy* Christmas

There are lots of little happy things...

It's been just the right cold for Christmas. It's been ranging from -5C up to freezing. That means you don't really need an extra layer under your coat. And, we've had lots of pretty, fluffy snow falling.

The flowers I got on Christmas eve are still lovely. I don't know what they are...like crimson gerber daisies and green and white spiky-petalled ones.

I found cinnamon candles!

My bed looks like a giant candy cane--all red and white sheets, blankets, spread, duvet.

Since I folded up the duvet to reveal more of the red spread, the cats have spent more time curled up on my bed. Seeing them there is just a picture of contentment.

I was invited to the Christmas party at "my" orphanage. More on that later.

So. It's truly a happy Christmas season here. I just have to look for it. Keep looking for you happy.

songs that make you go hmmm

Before we leave the Christmas season...

Did anyone have any "carol epiphanies" this year?

I got all choked up over the line "Bless all the dear children in thy tender care." For the first time (I think...I don't remember this happening before...) there were so many faces of children who have become dear to me and need that loving care.

I always wonder at "Lo, He abhors not the virgin's womb." I mean, why would He? Isn't it kind of like moving into a brand new house that no one else has lived in?

Anybody else?

28 December 2008

glum

I have internet at home!

This makes me much, much less glum.

But, I have this all typed out and saved...and it is true...so I'll post it. But don't worry.

New posts soon! I just have a million and four e-mails to wade through and general life to get on with first.

Mwah!

A lengthy dissertation on the state of glum

I am not one to dwell on misery. (Let other pens do that, right Jane?) But sometimes you have to really dig through the dung heap to find the beetles…or some such metaphor. Though why you’d want beetles, I’m not sure… And lately even those beetles have been few and far between. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been blogging. When I was a youth group leader and was constantly looking for everyday examples to illustrate my lessons, I saw them everywhere. Maybe blogging with a positive spin—because d2b will read this one day—helps keep my positivity at the fore. But right now, I’m not feeling very positive. I'm a little glum.

I also think I may be misleading you about life here. I get e-mails from people who have adopted saying they want to come and live in Russia—that they loved it here and want to move back. While I do not doubt the sincerity of these desires, I am going to humbly suggest that this might be like buying a t-shirt at a concert. It's not that you particularly want or need another t-shirt. But, you know—you go to a great concert (or play) and have an amazing experience and want to capture that emotional high. So you buy a t-shirt.

Living in Russia is different from visiting Russia. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been here too long. This is a "hardship posting" for the diplomats. It's a very nice hardship post, but is a hardship post nonetheless. At first I thought that it was ludicrous to categorize life here that way. Now, I'm beginning to understand. I find, and the other ex-pats here find, living in Russia, well, foreign and difficult. It could be limited to the life I have in this city. I can only say, from my experience, that a four-year tee shirt is too expensive and won’t wash well.

Try this for a week:

Use no internet. Don’t blog, e-mail, shop, pay bills, research, or download movies. Don’t watch any television.

Don’t use your home telephone because all you hear is static. Use your mobile, but only outside of your house.

Don’t drive anywhere. Walk or ask colleagues for rides everywhere you need to go.

Don’t use your ATM card (I’m cardless right now). And, be prepared for your credit card to be refused with no warning as a result of over-vigilant anti-fraud measures. Even though you’ve TOLD them repeatedly that you live. in. Russia. When credit card is refused, abandon all purchases and call it a day.

Accomplish no more than one errand per day—but take all day to accomplish that one.

Some variables cannot be replicated in your week-long experiment. You are going to be surrounded by people who smile. You will not be stared at maliciously for simply being American. (I’m quiet and don't speak English on the streets but I will wear my American boots and coat. That’s enough to get me looks of death. I used to apologetically smile and look away. Now, I stare back until they look away. These stare-offs last an uncomfortably long time. But I’m sick of it!)

You won’t be thrown under the bus-literally. Let’s say there’s a path cleared that’s two-persons wide. You and a friend are walking side by side. Another person is approaching. I’m willing to bet that without even THINKING about it, you and your friend will drop to single file so that the approaching person will be able to pass. That doesn’t happen here. The twosome (or threesome or foursome) will continue to muscle through. The single approacher can either step off the cleared path into the muck, or lower her shoulder and body check the inside man. Guess what I’ve been doing lately? Yep. Thank goodness for college football. This non-sharing happens when groups meet groups on the streets, too. It’s like living in West Side Story.

If you were actually here, courtesies I consider common would vanish. No one would hold a door for the person behind them. I live in the courtyard of a building. There is a big, iron gate through which you must pass to enter. Countless times, I’ve slowed my progress and waited to hold the door open for someone approaching behind me only to watch them let the door slam shut in the face of the person behind them. No one takes notice of the fact that someone’s arms are full of shopping and just HELPS. (Now, I’ve heard that this changes for people with young children and babushkas. I hope to experience that first exception, but not the second!)

These little things are wearing. There is a combative feeling on the streets. It’s not fun. And it’s worse in winter.

While you’re doing this week-long experiment, do it by yourself—no spouse, no friends (friendly colleagues are allowed to an extent, but no one to whom you would share more than pleasantries). Surround yourself with people who do not share your beliefs and world-view.

I don’t know if a week would really give you an idea of what this is like. A week with no technology is a vacation. Six weeks—particularly at Christmas--is a nightmare. Three-and-a-half years of this life is feeling like a long time. There is an exponential weariness that comes with living here. Add to that an apartment that is small and DARK. I’m sure things will get better as it gets lighter. And, I think I’ve convinced them to move me next year to an apartment that is roomier and lighter.

It hasn’t been a fun six weeks. I’ve gotten old (more wrinkles and my first sliver hairs—which actually look like my blonder bits but are a different texture. My sister says they’re caused by four-year-olds, so…maybe…). I didn’t go to the school Christmas party (no loss really, I’m decidedly *not* a party girl in any sense) because I was simply bursting into tears every time I opened my mouth. I think I was just feeling completely out of control—I couldn’t get my car or my internet fixed. I couldn’t order my niece and nephew’s birthday presents or anyone’s Christmas presents. New agency just said that I am not registered in any region and that I won’t be until I duplicate my entire hs dossier for a Russian sw to review. Someone I thought was my friend made a disparaging remark about me (I don’t know what it was because it was in fast, quiet Russian—but the jerk of the chin and the accompanying snicker were easily understood) right in front of me to our IMPOSSIBLE, vain, IT-nazi (who won’t listen and is mac incapable). That betrayal made me doubt all the other “friendlyships” I thought I had here. It was clear to me that I am still the outsider.

Oh, and please don’t say, “I could never live like that.” That’s my new pet peeve. I’m just sick of people telling me, “I could never wait as long as you have to adopt.” “I couldn’t live without internet.” because you know what—you could. You just DO. And somehow those statements seem to be blame-filled, as if I’m not doing everything I can to get my internet fixed and d2b home; as if there is an unspoken “I’d xyz and make it happen” on the end. Believe me, I've run the alphabetical gamut of possibilities.

Kind of a grumpy way to come back, huh? (And, I’m typing this into word on Christmas Eve, of all times, to save for when I do have internet. At least if it’s on paper, it might quit rattling around in my head.)

Please come back. I’ve got some amusing esl stories to share…

26 December 2008

quickie

This one is for after Christmas. (But I'm typing it before...)

Still no internet.
Possibly a car...
Discouraging news from agency. (I wish they lived on the range. Or maybe I am supposed to move out to the range...) Just delays. And more delays.

Pressing on.

A long, grumbly post is all typed in Word and saved on my home computer for when internet is restored.

Wish yahoo wasn't blocked from school's server...

Miss you.

24 December 2008

be ye merry

Snuck into school after the tech guy left to send you warm Chrismas greetings.

I, myself, am striving to claim the words of this song as my own this holiday season:

God rest you, Kate (though neither merry nor a gentleman).

Let nothing you dismay.

Remember: Christ our saviour was born on Christmas day to save us all from Satan's power when we had gone astray.

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy!

Oh tidings of comfort and joy!



Since the best present to give is one that you want yourself, that's what I'm sending each of you this Christmas.



Comfort.

And Joy!


Tomorrow I'll open an anticipated card from my forever friend (30+ years = forever) and go to church. I'll borrow a friend's phone so I can call my niece and nephew. It will be a nice, quiet day.

p.s. Look what I found under my tree! Beazy was snoozing there so contentedly that I had to let her stay--even though the little Christmas tree (story forthcoming) is on the usually verboten table. After I took the picture I looked closer and saw evidence of Mia--a fallen angel and a toy mouse deposited by Dyed Moros' feet.


09 December 2008

quickie

I have water!

Still no internet.

Still no car.

Still no news.

But, I do have full cupboards and an empty laundry basket. ;>

03 December 2008

one thousand and counting

Happy 1000th day!
Many are the plans in (Kate's) heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21


I had a feeling when I shared my hopes for news on this day that I'd get to share that verse from Proverbs with you instead. So, I guess that plan worked out the way I thought...in a convoluted sort of way...

I've been thinking today about all I planned as far as this adoption is concerned.

I signed with first agency in March (2006). I thought that was a good time because it gave me a year before I wanted to bring d2b home. The agency thought we'd be home by Christmas 2006, but I told them that March 2007 was better for me--it would let my maternity leave run into summer vacation. And, I told them that I knew other families were longing to be home by Christmas. I told them I was happy to wait. March 2007 would be perfect.

So much for that planI planned to bring d2b (plural) home to my big, sunny, quiet flat.

I planned to be back in the USA by now.

I planned to have water, internet and a working car. All. the. time. (Still 0 for 3 there...)

Even though the plans I made are not bearing the fruit I expected (like planting an apple seed and getting a pomegranite), the plans that are being made on my behalf and of behalf of d2b, the plans that are purposed for us, are more wonderful than I can possibly imagine. They're perfect. They're so perfect my little mind, which can't see all the ripples, couldn't plan them. So, I'll just keep trustfully waiting. And hoping. With my eyes fixed on the prize. s.

Thanks for joining me in celebrating the fact that today I'm 1000 days closer to d2b!

I did e-mail new agency today to ask if there was any smidgen of news...

28 November 2008

while they're at p.e....

Just popping in to wish you all a belated Thanksgiving.

Still no car.
Still no internet.

But, those little ducks are still marching smartly behind me every time I look over my shoulder. And for that, I'm very thankful.

Thanksgiving stories as soon as I'm able to post from home.

21 November 2008

good news

Long-time readers will have guessed that I have had no internet for the past week and a half. And, I feel funny about posting from school. But, I've overcome my compunction to cc you all on an e-mail I wrote to new agency today:

Here's good news! My new I-171H is finally, FINALLY here!

With the MOE back in the office next week, I think it's time for more good news...and all my ducks, those tricky little bureaucratic ducks, are finally in a row.

December 3 will be 1000 days since I signed with my first agency and started this process officially. (That doesn't count the two years prior that it took for me to clear debts, save up adoption fees and make myself more "stable" by giving up acting and going back to teaching.) I think it's TIME!

I predict good news on December 3. Should we start a pool?

BEST!
Kate



How's that for good news?

11 November 2008

crystal clear?

Can you believe I've resorted to this? Here are the answers from an online "crystal ball". (Silly. I know.) All in all, I was quite pleased...

Will I meet my daughter this year?
The outcome you desire will come to pass.

Will my daughter come home this year?
Not a chance.

Is d2b plural?
Yes!


10 November 2008

field trip!

Teaching third culture children presents some interesting dichotomies.

My students can't go outside and play by themselves, but we're taking a field trip to Moscow. The cast of Seussical is on its way to show the elementary students in our big, Moscow school our play later this week. It's a first for us. And we're excited! About ten of these students are only third and fourth graders, (Can you parents of eight- and nine-year-olds imagine sending our child to Moscow for three days?) but a trip to Moscow while exciting, is not out of the realm of normal for them.

We were talking about how we'll travel (train this time) and some security procedures we'll need to follow (no one leaves the train car--even to go to the bathroom--without an adult) when questions came up about seating. I asked how many people had taken this train (the "sitting up" train as opposed to the "sleeping" train) to Moscow. Only two people had. When I asked who had been on a train before, every hand was raised and some scoffing, "Of COURSE" noises were voiced.

It's amazing to me what is normal to my students. They can convert currencies in their heads, regularly carry their passports, are more likely to suspect visa issues than the flu for an extended absence of a classmate and are experts at navigating an airport. They are friendly and flexible. They know how to blend in to a foreign culture. But, they don't ride bikes to their friends house, know much about their "home country", and only three of my twenty-two cast members can turn a cartwheel. They learned to swim, ride bikes and tie their shoes late.

There are advantages and disadvantages to raising a third culture child. I've read about it, attended seminars and done a lot of observing. Some families, most families are much closer and much stronger. They are the constant. Siblings are closer--better playmates and more staunch protectors. But, there is an element of insecurity. Moving every three years becomes a habit. Many tck have a hard time reintegrating into their home cultures when they return. And, many live unsettled lives--moving or reinventing their lives frequently. I thought I'd come home soon after adopting. But, recent developments have made me think that I might prefer to stay abroad for the next four years. ;> For now, I'll settle for a trip to Moscow. We'll let you know how the touring version of Seussical goes!

09 November 2008

не сказка

This was in my last (long) post:

...Yesterday I got there and found only two of my eight girls there. The others were home for the holdiay...and a few are home with grandparents for good! This is a fairy tale ending to their stories that left me overjoyed for them, a little worried that it wouldn't last, and heartbroken that I didn't get to say goodbye...

I was wrong. It isn't a fairy tale at all. Two sisters, L&P are being taken into the home of an older lady, but it isn't their grandmother. She has also started the paperwork to take one of my other sisters, N. N's older sister, Kl will not be staying with them as I'd originally been told. Something happened and I don't know what.

I am hoping to get to see N before she moves for good. She's back in the children's home today and will be there until her paperwork is processed. I am hoping that at age 10 she has to be consulted for a guardianship as she would for an international adoption. But, on the other hand, I hope she does not have to be the one who makes the final decision. I cannot imagine being ten years old and having to choose between remaining with my sister, the sister who took such good care of me in the children's home, the only family I have left, the only family I've known for the last few years and the opportunity to leave the children's home. She would be with good friends, but not with her sister. N is a meek, gentle, funny girl who needs to be in a home. I worry about what will happen to her if she stays in the orphanage. She isn't a fighter. But leaving her sister behind might be more than she can bear.

Oh, my sweet girls! What impossible portions have been put on your plates.

03 November 2008

3.10 yesterday

My visits to celebrate birthdays in 3.10 start days before. I find out what the girls want for their birthday and go shopping. In addition to a requested item (shower gel, a hair dryer, black ballet-style shoes), I like to add in some "accessories" and include a new item of clothing. I know they have plenty to wear. I've seen it. But, I think it must be nice for them to have something new, too.

I always bring an activity for all of us to do together. I want to spend time with them. And, I want them to celebrate their friends' birthdays without feeling jealous. We make bracelets, decorate pots and plant flowers...that sort of thing. Yesterday we had салон красоты с Кейт (a beauty salon with Kate). I took basins, new towels, foot soak, scrub and lotion, nail files, toe separators and lots of miniature bottles of nail polish. After Kl's reaction to her lotion, I wanted to spend some time on girly pampering.

I also bake. This time, I made blondies. They were awful! So...I made some chocolate sauce, bought four different kinds of Baskin Robbins and dug out the sprinkles an ex-pat left behind. I packed plates (no disposable bowls) and plastic spoons. And, I picked up bananas on the way. Despite bagging them in a thermal bag and surrounding them with gallon ziplock bags of ice, we had slightly melted sundaes. (Ice cream soup!) They were not impressed with my description of American banana splits, but enjoyed the ice cream first and the bananas later.

Yesterday I got there and found only two of my eight girls there. The others were home for the holdiay...and a few are home with grandparents for good! This is a fairy tale ending to their stories that left me overjoyed for them, a little worried that it wouldn't last, and heartbroken that I didn't get to say goodbye. I'm hoping I can at least send them some letters.

I seem to come during holidays often. That just seems to be how the girls' birthdays (and my car's health!) coincide with my schedule. While it's sad to not get to see everyone, I think it might be even better for the girls left behind to have something special. We had a new friend (She a little girl who was new and shell-shocked last Christmas who recieved a doll.) join us and two boys. The groups had been somewhat combined over the holiday to let staff have a break. The boys were happy to join in the ice cream party--wishing N all sorts of lovely things--but declined the beauty salon. Instead they played video games.

My girls are so sweet and so dear! They laughed and played with me and with each other. They did and re-did (of course I remembered the remover, cotton pads and cotton swabs) their nails--



--and mine.


(left hand by N--sort of French manicure with daisy,
right hand by Ka--feathered with a toothpick and three silver dots)

They demonstrated the dances that N has been learning in her Saturday classes. Ka has the chicken pox and was covered in green spots, but it didn't dim her smile. She came running up the path to meet me and beamed the entire time. She and N walked me to my car afterwards despite my protests that they were not suitably dressed. (Their caretaker dismissed that thought and let them walk me to my car in shorts and camis! They'd gotten very hot dancing. I've moved pre-teen underwear up my mental list of needed items.) We just have such an easy time together. It's warm and relaxed and simple and fun. Each visit lets me see a little more and know them a little better. There weren't surprises in personality this time...which made me feel like I really DO know them now. And, as I was leaving, I met another new girl from a different group and encouraged them to invite her to the salon. They did with all eagerness--putting her hands in to soak and getting out the polish for her to choose. I love their generosity.

I had the chance to chat with two of the caretakers who were there while the girls were preparing their dance show for us. I invited them to the beauty salon and did their hands, too! While it wasn't exactly a footwashing, being able to take their hands, both the hands of these precious girls and of these women, and wash them and soothe them was a privilege. (No one was willing to take off their shoes.) The caretakers wanted to know if I had children. I told them I didn't, that I wanted to adopt, that St. Petersburg said no. When they asked why I just told them I didn't know--maybe because I was an American. They thought this was a nightmare. I agreed. They asked if I was married, how old I was, where in America I was from. I saw the newest pictures of their children and grandchildren.

I enjoy the time I get to spend with them. It makes me feel a part of a team. The girls' primary caretaker, AN, loves them so much. It shows not just in how she treats them--an affectionate pop on the yagadeetsi, including me in conversations about cigarettes so that I can add my warnings to hers, telling me what marks everyone had in school, the way she LISTENS to them, the way she encourages each one to show what is special about her--but in how they treat each other. There is much teasing and laughter. There is a generosity of spirit. There are affectionate kisses on the little ones' foreheads and pats on the head. It's a magical room, 3.10.

Yesterday, AN, was telling me why different children were in the orphanage. I didn't really understand all of it, though I'll ask my friends here about a certain word and gesture. The grief that she had over these parents who didn't realize how good, how kind their daughters are was easily understood and shared. We comiserated over the injustice of it. I think she knows how much I love these girls and want the best for them. I did find that one of my sister sets had no mother and father. It just makes it harder to leave them. Her wonderment of the injustice of them having no parents and me having no children was comforting in a way. When the directors and caretaker find out I want to adopt and ask me to come back for one of their children, it is a great honor. The trust they have in me is humbling and encouraging.

So, it was a typical visit. It was happy and joyful. The planning is fun. The visit was wonderful. The drive home is long and hard.

less possible

I had an e-mail from new agency to say that Miss Possible is decidedly less possible now (though still not impossible). This has left me feeling...relieved. The MOE in her region and I have the same concern--and her very best interest at heart. This is a good thing. REALLY.

(I knew I bought those boots too soon!)

02 November 2008

in hot water

I am a small car kind of girl. My car of choice when back home in the US--a vintage (read, "old, affordable, 150K+") BMW 3 series. Seriously. Love them.

When I moved to St. Petersburg, I didn't really need a car. I had friends who took me grocery shopping that first year, and everything else was withing walking distance. The second year, I decided to buy a car. I wanted to be able to take d2b to the doctor if needed without calling a taxi and to have more freedom and control over my schedule. (Don't laugh. That was before I knew about the random towing and Mechanical Munchhausen.)

Because of my job, I have the privilege of having diplomatic plates. That means, I need to buy a car that has dip plates. Switching types of license plates is unheard of--probably very expensive and paperwork intensive. So, I asked around at school and the consulate. No dice. There were some cars available from teachers at the Moscow school--including a SAAB that sounded right up my alley. After getting jerked around by a real jerk, it became clear that the SAAB was not coming anywhere near my alley. BUT, the then-new principal in St. P was getting a new car, so I could buy the old principal's car. It's a Blazer. It's huge.

That's not all bad. It is harder for me to wiggle through traffic. But, it's already knocked around, so I don't worry about that. It gives me some weight to throw around when push comes to shove as it so often does in Russian traffic. And, it fits loads of orphanage donations!

Last week, my car came back (yea!) but needs new brakes (boo.). I said the brakes would have to wait until I made some orphanage trips. On Friday, V and I visited four orphanages and delivered lots of medicine, used toys and outgrown clothes. Today, I went to see my girls in 3.10. Along with the usual birthday goodies, I was able, thanks to one of Rachael's readers, deliver a hot water heater! This generous reader donated enough to money purchase one-and-a-half hot water heaters for the kiddos at the L. orphanage. (And, since Maxidom wouldn't let me buy half a hot water heater, I kicked in for the rest.)

So all I had to do was shop for hot water heaters. Why do I think I can do these things? If I know what I'm doing, then my limited Russian vocabulary isn't a problem. If my limited vocabulary covers an unfamiliar activity, I'm fine. Today...welll... I had been assured by V (WHY do I keep believing her? And people in general??) that all I had to do was ask for a hot water heater. (Guess what--"boiler" is the same in both languages. I did find that out before I went.) When I asked what kind, what specifications, she told me it would be easy. Any one would work. She implied that there would only be one kind.

Maybe she didn't know what she was talking about (ya think?) and just acted like an expert (not a cultural trend or anything...). Maybe the last time she shopped for hot water heaters there only was one kind. Not so today. There were LOADS of different models!! Being a brat, I didn't want to call V to ask about it. So I called M at the orphanage. Who doesn't speak any English.

I explained where I was and what I was doing (Hi, M, it's Kate. I'm at Maxidom doing the shopping for the boiler. No, not the children's home, MAXIdom. The shop. You understand? I am doing the shopping for the boiler. The machine to do hot water. Yes? Please will you speak to the man here?) and we got it sorted. There was a long conference that included me and four employees--one who was helping, one who was listening, one who (it was much later revealed) spoke a little English and a woman who was there for solidarity. I finally chose one--not the most expensive and not the cheapest. (None were brands I recognized.) NACH, the men "weren't allowed" to help me take it to my car. Apparently they weren't even allowed to help me take it out of the department. Fortunately, simple machines are a part of the second grade curriculum, so I was able to navigate through the store (on the cart it was taller than I), pay, get the warranty stamped and then load it into the car myself (said the little red hen).



When I bring donations, I like to slip in and slip out. I don't like to have thanks loaded upon me. (Had an extremely uncomfortable moment when the then-principal came with the students and I to deliver some donations to a children's home and she wanted the kids there to understand that our students had collected clothes and toys for them. EXTREMELY uncomfortable.) So, after getting some help unloading and handing off the warranty, smiling and nodding, I left to find my girls.

Rachael's reader, I send all the thanks to you! I know that hot showers will be greatly appreciated this winter. Spacebo bolshoi!

30 October 2008

eat, shop, and be merry

Still no answer from my sw.

(eta: Oh, the power! No sooner did I publish this than my sw called! She is starting on the update and thinks that the Russian sw visit will be enough to satisfy USCIS about my move.)


Still no answer from new agency.

Sent fingerprints to Moscow via DHL. (note: That cost as much as a Fed Ex to the US...but will be faster and I now have a nifty discount card. another note: I shouldn't have bothered translating everything into Russian as we had to put it BACK into English. The DHL worker was impressed, though...and gave me the nifty card.)

So. Grumble, grumble. No news from the people who should be bringing me glad tidings of great joy. What's a girl to do when there's no joy to be tided? Make brownies and shop online.

I have all sorts of things in all sorts of sizes...but decided I needed more in Miss Possible's sizes. (Actually, a review of the closet post-spree showed I had more than I thought...but the new items aren't overkill. And I could still use pajamas...)

Today I bought the two items that I'd been putting off buying until I know sizes (coat and shoes). That was very sensible of me. Today, I didn't want to be sensible. So, I just guessed...and guess a little big. Who knows? If they are too small, we donate. If they're too big, way too big, we save them and shop some more.

[I'm still holding off on her bitty baby until I know for sure what d2b looks like (so the baby will look like her). Well, I'm holding off for now...]


Mia, ever the helpful kitty who wants in on the action, jumped up to give her approval...and attack the not-new elephant. (Beazy approved and then left when the camera appeared.) This photo was taken and posted to appease the demanding readers who want to know about the felines. You people are nuts. Lovable, but nuts. They're CATS--not people.

29 October 2008

speed bump, eta

DHS Moscow says my fingerprints were rejected. (Don't remember the exact verbige.) These were the fingerprints we submitted in JUNE.

They told me to resubmit. On the little cards.

But the consulate doesn't HAVE the little cards and told me to just print out the form.

Great. SW not answering e-mails. Wondering if we send in the update before we have the actual I171H if this will speed things up or slow things down.

Edited to add...

Do you remember Simon on Captain Kangaroo? (Well you know my name is Simon, and the things I draw come true...) Sometimes it seems like I have his computer. I posted there was no news on my I171H and I got that message about my fingerprints. (Now they say maybe they will use old fingerprints. Quick vent: I cannot stand the new policy they have at the Moscow DHS office of not giving out names. There used to be a very nice, incredibly helpful woman there named Christie Lloyd. Now, it's just messaged from "The Public Liason Unit". And if you call, they won't tell you to whom you're speaking. How is that a security issue? Edited vent inc case they are reading. ) And, after I wrote this post, my sw e-mailed me with an encouraging possibility. She isn't answering her phone yet, but...I'll call that progress.

Ohhh the power. Maybe this is my new hero power. I have fingers that can type the future!

No. Too much pressure. I need to have this power removed. (But, um, I'm not giving it to that bad guy. Chah!)

28 October 2008

it's long-trust me.

Did you see this comment from Jim on the slideshow post?

There's nothing quite like the feeling of doing something God made you to do, is there Kate?

It is very, very true. God has been generous in His gifts to me. My favorite ones are the ones I get to use in theatre. I just love it! I'm more alert, more alive, more fully me when I'm doing theatre. I feel like more of my brain is being used--that connections are being made and all those right-brain left-brain highways are open and traffic is humming! I just...love it. I like teaching. But, I love theatre.

So why am I not doing more of it?

Well. (Settle in. Make sure your tea is hot and you have something to nibble if you're going to stick around for this one.)

I have been doing theatre for longer than I can remember. I was very fortunate to have parents who let me have lessons in all sorts of things--horseback riding, art classes, dance classes, voice lessons, soccer, swimming, skiing, clarinet, French horn, piano, drama classes...and I'm sure there are more. The skills that stuck are the ones that relate to the performing arts (I'm soo not a visual artist) and the horsey ones.

When I graduated from high school, I went to college to get my fall-back degree. (I was a psych major until I realized that all I could do with that was go to grad school and incur more debt. That's when I switched to education. Teaching is a no-brainer for me--it's easy and instinctual. I have so much babysitting, camp counseling, Sunday School/vbs/Bible study teaching, youth group leading, etc. experience that it was an easy switch. And, I have minors in psych and youth ministry.) BUT, since I went to a private, Christian college out of state I had to get a teaching job to pay off my debts. I could be an actor and starve, but I couldn't imagine being an actor and defaulting on my debts. Oldest child? Virgo? Just me?

When my debts were about a year away from being paid, I started looking at drama schools in England. I wanted to act. I wanted to live in England. (I thought.) What better way to cross two items off my list than to go to drama school there? My theory about single life has always been that I live it--and not sit around and wait to be spotted by Mr. Right. I think people should live so that there aren't things to regret in the future. This theory worked out well insofar as I have checked all the "selfish" things off my I'd-like-to list...but I'm still single, soo...there's a flaw in there somewhere.) I auditioned for a drama school, thinking I'd just go and scope things out to see how auditions for drama school worked and then the next year I could go and really nail the auditions...and got accepted to The Oxford School of Drama.

So I went. I left the best school a teacher could imagine and went. Drama school...that would be a blog of it's own.

I came back to the US and was able to support myself acting for four years. It was amazing--and hard. The hard part isn't the rejection. That really isn't something you take personally. It was exhausting constantly selling myself and constantly looking for a job. As soon as you land one, you need to start looking for the next one. But, I loved it.

Towards the end of that four years, I was talking to a friend on the phone. He was talking about how he had a new client whose Constitutional rights were being ignored. He was fired up and ready to slay dragons. He asked what I did that day.

I told him that my agent and I had been trying to decide how best to describe what color my hair was.

Now, that actually was an important thing. I am (or was when my hair still saw the sun) a natural blonde--albeit a "dark blonde". A big company wasn't hiring blondes for their tv adverts, but they really meant they weren't hiring BLONDES. They were in a non-blonde phase. So, having "dark blonde" on my cv was keeping me from auditions. But, putting "honey" as my hair color (an apt description) was too clever and too...twee. So, dark blonde it stayed.

But the juxtaposition of Constitutional rights with hair color highlighted how small my life had become. Everything in my life was about me--how I looked, what I wore, what I ate, where I went, how I sounded, how I felt. And, that is too small a life for me. I was feeling selfish.

Just as those niggles started, I landed the absolute best job of my life. The very best, BEST fit for me. I was working for a history museum. They paid me to read! I was immersed in social history of the early twentieth century. (I love social history.) I was developing living history programs for the summer. I was putting together programs to take into schools. I was a historical interpreter. (This is a person who speaks to you in character. I played two different roles. One was Sally Lane, a reporter. I had a bicycle and got to talk to people in general and children in particular about how my brother thought is was inappropriate for a girl to ride a bike--bicycles, fashion, women in the workplace, changing roles in society all at once. I got to interview people and tell them about the Wright Brothers. (I could do a whole post about the social implications of the bicycle.) The next summer I played Rose, a factory worker who won $10. I had a Sears catalogue and solicited opinions about what I should buy with my winnings. Being Rose was fun, but Sally was my favorite.) It was everything I loved and everything I was good at doing. I was acting, teaching, reading, writing, organizing...

That's when I felt called to adopt. Now, this isn't like Samuel being called. I didn't sit bolt upright in bed and hear God's voice audibly saying, "Kate, sweetheart, it's time to adopt. I know you love this acting thing. And, you're good at it. I made you that way. But now it's time to do something else. I know, I know--you thought that you'd be married first and then go adopt, but that's not what I want you to do. I don't want you to wait. I want to you start on that path now." But, I knew that was what I was supposed to do. It's both a complicated and incredibly simple thing. I don't know that I can explain it, but if it's happened to you, then you understand. It took thinking and talking and praying and I knew--I was supposed to get my ducks in a row and adopt.

So, I did. I went back to teaching to provide some financial stability. A part of me, a big part of me, was so sad to give up my perfect job, but I knew it was what I was supposed to do. I still miss it. I hope someday to be able to do it again.

Starting to adopt wasn't a big, emotional decision. It wasn't because I had a child-shaped hole in my heart. Yes, I wanted a family, but I didn't have the desperation, I wasn't at the breaking point that seems to send so many people towards adoption. I just knew that this was what I was meant to be doing. So, I did it.

My friend Lara says she gets great joy from being obedient. I can't say that that is true for me. I wish it were! Instead, obedience leaves me with an absence of guilt. That's good. And, I think, it gives me a peace and a security. When people marvel at my patience, I try to explain that I'm not being patient. This wasn't my plan. I am doing what I was told to do, so I trust that it will all come to fruition at the proper time. So, I'm not patiently waiting...I'm trustfully waiting.

Do I understand WHY it's taking so long, WHY I had to start when I did? No. Do I like being in this limbo? Not particularly. Do I feel patient? Not really. Is it even harder now that there is a possible d2b and I have to imagine her waiting day after day without her family when I feel so incredibly ready? Big yes to that one.

But I know that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. And, until I'm told otherwise, I'm just going to keep doing it.

26 October 2008

indulgent

I have a bit of an addictive personality. And, this weekend, I've indulged it...with pistachios and Heroes. And some m&m's. And Coke. (But, Coke is an on-going addiction and not limited to this weekend.)

Why can I afford the luxury of indulgence this weekend? It's because I have all of next week off from school! If you remember from this post, I thought this would be a good time to meet d2b. But...it seems that isn't in the cards. (I told you there's usually a better option...but I keep planning and working regardless.)

No news from new agency about Miss Possible. (Doesn't it feel like forever since she was first mentioned? It does to me. And there's been no news since then.) No reply from sw about updating US hs. No I-171H. Nothing really to work on here...except laundry. There's always laundry. I guess it's time to indulge in a little fluff-and-fold action.

19 October 2008

pix as touted

Here are some pictures from our production of Seussical. We had over 20% of our school population involved. With limited resources, a borrowed performance space, and a lot of enthusiasm we managed to pull off a good show.

I didn't take the action pictures as I was otherwise occupied but thought you might like to see some of them. I'll add more when they're available--the production shots are only from the last third of the play. I'd like you to see my little Whos in action, too! (Slide won't let me put in my own music...and, funnily enough, "Oh the Thinks You Can Think" wasn't one of their choices...)

As the ending of the curtain speech goes, "Sit back, relax and enjoy, Seussical!"


13 October 2008

borrowed esl story

We had *lots* of zero-English students enter our school this fall. One of the fifth grade students spoke his first voluntary sentence last week.

Teacher, after all but one of her students had returned from recess: Where is Do Gun?

Do Gun's friend, blurting excitedly, with great authority and enthusiasm: He in the closet eating Choco Pie!

My guess is that Do Gun refused to share that Choco Pie.

I think his friend just needed a little motivation to start speaking English. Oh, the power of a Choco Pie!

11 October 2008

blah-g

I freely admit that the crickets chirping here are BORING. What's up with that?

Um, I guess...nothing.

I've got nothing here--no news, no angst, no highs, no lows, no nothing.

You don't believe me? Okay, I'll try. I keep trying to disabuse you people who cherish the notion that life here must be more interesting than life in your house. You're so, so wrong. (And you can eat key lime yogurt or fajita pitas from Chili's and get mail every day and shop and...) But, for you--I'll try.

Seussical is right on schedule to peak on Thursday night. If I do say so myself--and I only do because others said it first--pacing rehearsals is something I do exceptionally well. My casts are always ready and always at their best when we open. And yet, when people say in response to my replies that things are a little rough at rehearsal (because we had some rough patches with this one) that it always comes together in the end, I get really angry. It doesn't JUST come together. And there's a BIG difference between what I expect from a show and what most doting parents think is fantastic. I expect, and I get, more. They don't always know it, but I do. And, their children know it, too.

Hmm. I think crickets might be more palatable than self-congratulations. Sorry.

I love, love, love having theatre--in any form--to do. I am happier, have more energy and just have a better spirit. Watching my actors grow from play to play is a privilege. Seeing them carry over what they've learned onstage to their lives in school is gratifying. I love being able to share things like...

  • the way I think a curtain call should be (fast and gracious and as the actor acknowledging the audience's thanks--not as the character or showing how hard you've worked)
  • making your partners perfect instead of worrying about yourself
  • continuing to tell the story and not go back no matter what
  • that YOU are enough
  • play, enjoy, smile
  • if it's not yours, don't touch it
  • if it falls, pick it up
  • help each other
  • be on time
  • listen
  • the best thing you can bring to the stage is confidence
  • if you don't have confidence in yourself, then rely on your trust in me. You know that I want what is best for you and will not let you look foolish. Trust me. Trust the work you've done. Trust.
  • and so much more...my senior integration project was on children and theatre...and I have much more to say now than I did then. (Yes, I hold strong beliefs on just about everything. And I like it that way. ;> I think passion is a good thing.)
Yeah. Preachy. Sorry. Cue the crickets.

Doing theatre feeds me. I know I've said that over and over. But, this time it's true quite literally. The moms in the cast took pity on my kazillionth lunch of peanut butter and crackers (little do they know I could happily live on peanut butter and Coca Cola) and set up a rota for cooking me dinners! How cool is that?

Oh. Not very nice of me to throw that in your faces. Cricket time.

My esl kiddos speak too much English to be funny any more. I'm bursting with pride with each new word and phrase..but they're not really good for cute stories. My little girl from South Korea continues to be fascinated with my eyes. She'll gaze up and then just giggle and say, "Blue!" The other day she asked me if I could see. I replied that yes, I could see her. A classmate explained that she wanted to know if I could see because my eyes were so big. She knew her "little eyes" could see so how could mine? I resisted the urge to turn into the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood (The better to see you with, my dear.).

Yeah. It was funny but doesn't really blog well. Chirp, chirp?

So. Sorry. Not very bloggy over here. Kinda blah. Not really BLAH...just not an abundance of blogging fodder. Maybe I can manage some pictures or something to string you along...

08 October 2008

CHECK!

A "home visit" by a Russian social worker is exactly that--a visit to evaluate the home. The sw (E) was fast! (See--it's 11:10 and the visit is over and I've changed from hs clothes to cropped sweats and tee-shirt and read all your lovely comments from yesterday.) E didn't have any questions for me. She was just here to be sure that there was space for a child. She proclaimed by flat to be "very interesting". (This is because it has stairs, unlike most apartments here.)

Thanks for asking--my cats were on their best behaviour--Beazy is gorgeous and always makes a good impression...although she refuses to be stroked by strangers and Mia (yep--Hermia won out) was little and charming. They were napping in the window sill of my bedroom--the very picture of contentment.

My rep here, G, was nice enough to point out the Russian books and toys that I have--and had strategically placed to show that I had them but wasn't making a big deal about it. She also pointed out the baskets of socks, tights and underthings that were in d2b's room. That let me show the various sizes of dresses hanging in the closet (Suz, I laughed when I read your comment after the visit!) I was glad that they both seemed pleased that I was prepared and not displeased because I was preparing before the child arrived. (My friend V won't listen to any talk of Miss Possible until she's offical.)

And, in d2b's room she didn't bat an eye about the holes in the wall that are there because the curtain rod fell down this morning!! I had to pry it out of the wall. Sheesh. Hanging curtain rods. Looked like I was living in a crack house.

Both E and G laughed several times--when I said I went from living like a millionaire to living like a servant, when I pointed out I was using my sauna as a bookcase since the flat didn't have one--and were generally smiley and congenial.

AND, I think that E will be able to do my ppr's! It's iffy but sounds possible to me.

So--check! All I need now is my hs update from my other sw. And, news from my agency. Who is waiting for news from the MOE. I think.

07 October 2008

check

  • sub plans for tomorrow--check
  • class informed (and warned not to hide behind the trashcans like Ramona did)--check though several students proclaimed their intentions to be sick tomorrow...
  • cast told to expect rehearsal (only seven left...) even though I'm gone during school tomorrow--check
  • rugs vacuumed and washed--check
  • downstairs shower cleared of landlord's tasteless furnishings--check
  • water ordered to be delivered early tomorrow--check
  • cats' claws clipped so they cannot scratch the sw--check
  • alarm set for plenty of time for final touches and zucchini muffins--check
  • "gift" chosen (Kate, you will prepare a gift for this woman, no?) from drawer-o-gifts--check

The Russian sw comes tomorrow

p.s. I'm cherishing secret (well, not-so-secret anymore) hopes that this sw might be able to do my ppr's instead of flying in an American sw. A girl can hope, right?

02 October 2008

post-worthy

Look-two in one day! Why? Because there's news!

Today I met with "the municipality" to arrange for my Russian hs to be done. The electricity was off, and we had long stair-filled corridors to negotiate. But, we got there and the person we met with was SO nice! She asked if it could be done tomorrow (!) but we settled on Wednesday.

I ended by saying I had a silly question. I said that I hadn't bought a bed because I didn't know if I'd be referred one little girl or two and asked if I needed that before my sw visit. They both thought I was nuts. (So, um, the answer is no--I don't have to buy a bed this weekend.)

See? News!

aww...THX!

Some very nice person nominated me for this:



I was tickled! But, when I went to the site to see my blog on the nomination list, I couldn't find it. Still, it's pretty cool to be able to add that nifty little icon to my collection. THANK YOU, nominator! ;>

I'll try to be more worthy and post-ful.

Nine more rehearsals 'till Seussial opens...

30 September 2008

overruled

Votemom's objection re: infrequent posting is duly noted.

However, as previously stated:

a. I am crazy-busy with Seussical.
b. There is nothing else going on here. We're just in a holding pattern.
c. Even if there were adoption news, due to the unusual circs, I couldn't tell you much.
d. I'll tell you what I can when I can.

So, the objection is overruled.

;>

26 September 2008

baseless suppositions

After I did my name quiz ala Jenni, I put in little Miss Possible's name. Oy, vey! She sounds like QUITE a handful if the quiz is even remotely correct. (The English name I picked out long ago to add to her name got a much better report.)

And, on the database, Miss Possible is described as "capricious". Okay, thought I, "Changeable. She must be multi-faceted. That will keep life interesting."

My best Russian friend looked at the entry and immediately said, "Oh! She's NAUGHTY!"

"Naughty?"

"That's what it says." She backtracks, "Well, maybe not exactly naughty..."

"Mischievous?"

"Nooo...More like, if she decides that she does not like porridge, she will not eat it--even if she is starving."

"So she's stubborn."

"No. Well. Maybe. That sounds so bad to say."

"Strong-willed?"

"Not really..."

So, according to highly unreliable internet information, Miss P is naughty, stubborn and quite a handful.

All of which, I'm sure, has made her a survivor. And that's a good thing.

17 September 2008

more esl/tck

I really love teaching in an international school. I love teaching TCK (third culture kids) and ESL/EAL (English as a Second/Another Language)students. Here are some treasures from the last two days that show why:

Me, to student back from a trip: K, how was Norway?
K: Great! You could DRINK the water!

Y: Meez C, what you call the things we eat for your birthday? Black...
Me: Brownies
Y: Yeah, my mom wants to try those.

New Korean student: Why you big eye? Me small eye. You BIG eye. Why?

Same student: (laughing as she placed her hand on my arm) Meez C, you so white! You pink!

Same girlie again (she's just starting to use some English and it's priceless)...
Me: SM, how was after school?
SM: big, dramatic sigh
Me: Was it fun? Did you play with Lucy? (Lucy is a bulldog brought in for this week's pet care class. I had billed seeing Lucy as something great when SM didn't want to go.)
SM: sigh. Lucy, she good girl. But, I TIRED.

Both my Korean students, when they quiz me on Korean words: Oh! Good GIRL, Meez C!

(I know all I need to in Korean--shoes, jacket, out, goodbye...and I'm working on "be quiet".)

We were playing triominoes the other morning. Two of the ESL students (Germany and Holland) were playing with me. Holland kept trying and trying to put his triomino in places it wouldn't fit. I'd tell him, "I think you gotta choose, buddy." This happened twice. The third time he tried, Germany shook his head, smiled and said kindly, "Gotta choose, buddy."

See? Life is good in second grade.

15 September 2008

tiding you over

Yeah, I know. It *seemed* like all sorts of things should've started happening. But, really...there's not much new.

Seussical is taking all sorts of time--in rehearsal every day after school and all day (10-4) on Saturdays. There's just not much left after that...and I still have to plan lessons (okay, that's pretty easy), get ready for Friday's conferences, organize costumes/props/sets, choreograph everything, and do all sorts of little things that no one realizes needs to be done.

I am waiting to hear what to do about my new homestudies...

So...it's incredibly busy but there's not much news. Stay tuned...

ETA: Nach, as soon as I'd posted the news about no news, a rep from my agency called with a list of documents we had to present to the municipality to start the ball on my Russian hs...and then asked if I could go tomorrow. Um, no. I don't HAVE any of that paperwork. I need a new lease from the consulate, a new letter explaining the lease is for me, my registration card back (it expired yesterday and needs a new stamp...until they decide on the new registration cards for diplomats and then I'll get a whole new card) and a translated copy of my passport. Don't have any of that handy. It's possible we'll go Thursday after rehearsal or next week.

SO! That's the news.
Are you tided over now?

How we deal with a new flat is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Hello expensive visit from US sw!

08 September 2008

goofball

Do you want to know how big of a goof I am?

I just clicked on my blog (yes, this one--my own blog) to see if there was any news about the little girl I told you about.

Ummm...there wasn't.

06 September 2008

it's possible

That's a song from Seussical. One of my favorite students of all time (yes, there are many...)is singing that song (...It's possible. Anything's possible...) in the play. She's playing Jojo, the thinker who saves Who in Horton Hears a Who. (Didn't see the movie. Have no inclination to do so. Mr. Carey, stop ruining my Seuss!) The song is actually based on the book McElligot's Pool where even the most unlikely things are possible.

It seems like there could be a possibility of a possibility of a little elephant coming home. I got a call from Ann Marie (How great is that? A call that could end up being the call and it came from my friend.) telling me that new agency was trying to get a hold of me. Through the static we managed to figure things out.

Why did they want to talk to me? There is a little girl who might be available...but it's an unusual situation (what isn't in Russian adoption?) that I won't elaborate on here. And, please don't ask. I'll tell you what I can, when I can.

Suffice to say, it's in another region so I'd have to redo that paperwork. (But, I'm happy it's in this region instead of the anticipated one.)
She's older than my age range, so I need a hs update.
Because I've moved I likely need to fly in a sw again for that update.
I need a Russian hs, too. No clue about cost or timeline there.

I am calm, quiet and a little detached. Ann Marie is bouncing around like a cheerleader whose name has just been announced as a finalist for starring role in Bring It On, Again. (She's a great cheerleader.)

I told you I'd tell you. And this isn't even news, really...

03 September 2008

yes and no

Yes, I'm still alive and well.
No, there really isn't anything blogworthy to report.

Yes, school has started and so has the musical.
Yes, both are going well.
No, I'm still not used to being back to sleeping on my school schedule.
No, I don't have a minute spare with rehearsals after school M-F and all day (for me--two different half-day groups) Saturday.

Yes, my car came home.
No, it's not here now.
Yes, it was leaking worse than before after the 20,000r, two-month repair job.
No, I'm not happy that it's costing another 10,000r for them to replace the pipes they were supposed to have already replaced.

No, I haven't been able to go visit my girls in 3.10 in ages.
Yes, I'm feeling like I've abandoned them.
No, I haven't abandoned them.
Yes, I will get there as soon as is humanly possible.

No, I haven't given up blogging.
Yes, there will be something more interesting to report soon. (There just has to be.)

No, there is no adoption news.
Yes, of course I'll tell you when there is!

24 August 2008

true!

Last Thursday, one of our teachers met a little six-year-old girl who introduced herself as Alesya. When asked for her patronym, the little girl said it was Petochka.

The teacher commented skeptically that Petochka was an unusual name.

The little girl was quick to reassure her. She said she'd even write it for my friend. She wrote:

Алися П.

П is "P". A period is called a "tochka".

Gotta love it!

23 August 2008

shattered

That means more than exhausted...not broken into infinitesimal pieces.

First week with students finished.

Four students with zero English (German, Dutch and two from South Korea). Boy:girl ratio is 3:1. Three students who are more than a year too young for second grade. (Parents, no matter how brilliant you child is, age does make a difference. And, actually, they may not be brilliant. They just may have gotten there sooner. Classmates generally catch-up and things even out by fourth grade or so. Please, please don't push your child ahead just because he/she is a good reader. Please.)

Musical auditions start Monday--no scripts, no theatre, and many third-grade parents worried about balancing homework and rehearsals.

Haven't checked personal e-mail in a week.

No phone. All you can hear on this end is static.

I slept THIRTEEN hours last night. And was in bed for about fifteen.

Lending the computer to a colleague who wants to watch the basketball gold-medal final.

Will be back soon...just not sure when.

Kate!

ps No adoption news. No car news, either.

13 August 2008

it's time to put on make-up




You Are Kermit



Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.

You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.

Don't worry - everyone knows it's not easy being green.

Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

11 August 2008

chalkboard beckons

Tomorrow is my last day of summer vacation. I am back in school on Wednesday. How crazy is that?! (Actually, I've already been back to start sorting things out in my new classroom.) It's been nice knowing you...

Since I know I'll be busy in the next few days and weeks (Seussical starts four days after school starts...) I'm going to ask you ap's--all of you lurkers (you can stay anonymous if you want to), too--to pitch in and tell me what Becky suggested in her most recent, beautiful post:

How old was your child when s/he came home?
What was the best thing you did to foster attachment?
What would you do differently?

These are questions I've asked many, many people during "the journey". Even if I've asked you this previously, I'd love to have you answer here. Having this in one place would be great! I am, of course, particularly interested in hearing from ap's of school-aged children and siblings. But, I think everyone's experiences are great to have stored in my back pocket. I've got lots of ideas and research stored away already. But, I'd love to hear what proved true for you! (It's especially nice that so many of you have hit the one- and two- years mark!)

Cheers, duckies!

10 August 2008

Olympics 2

I love the US coverage of the Olympics. You can see almost anything and anyone you want. MSNBC, USA, Oxygen...they all have different sports and different perspectives. Yesterday by flipping amongst those channels I saw equestrian events (yea!), fencing, swimming, volleyball, beach volleyball (Russia's first two-woman team vs. Australia)...

When watching in the UK, I got to see rowing. ROWING. The same race over and over...because that's where they medalled. (sp?) Really. The Olympic games continued, but we'd get to "have another look at" the. same. race. that we'd seen over. and. over.

(Language note: Things that Americans take--a shower, a walk, a look, a nap, etc.--Brits have. Interesting, huh? I think it all goes back to the British empire and the sense of ownership that gave. Americans are more active, conquering the wilderness and taming the frontier. We're a younger country and it's reflected in our speech.)

Even if you're only following the primetime US medal contenders, you get to see a wider range of sports and more competitors.

Team handball and boxing have been very big on the Russian channel, Sport. (Seriously, I do have questions about the sports that are in the Summer Olympics. Handball? Beach volleyball? Come on.)

The women's gymnastics qualifier is on live right now (on Russian tv). This round has (I think) Romania, China, Spain, Venezuela, and Canada. Guess who the Russian sport channel are covering to the exclusion of everyone else. China. I would've thought we'd get to see Romania...The only way I know Canada is even in this round is that I heard the announcer in the background. Interesting...

I was encouraged to hear the way the Chinese crowd and teammates cheered on a fallen gymnast. If you read this post, you'll remember thet Russian audience that would have nothing to do with skaters once they'd fallen. There were no encouraging cheers, no rooting for them to overcome the mistake and finish the routine. It really was powerful.

In the book Two Worlds of Childhood, Bronfenbrenner notes that one of the most commonly used disciplinary methods used by Russian mothers (it was in the Dr. Spock equivalent here) is withdrawl of affection. I've seen this and it's so much more, much deeper, much...colder than just ignoring an unwanted behavior. And, that seems to be the way they cheer for their athletes.

Also interesting was that once the Chinese gymnast fell I got to see Romania on floor and Hungary on beam.

(There must be a group competing right now who aren't with a team, but are wanting to qualify for individual competition.)

Final parenthetical supposition proved correct by the following diagram showing mixed groups three and four in the first subdivision:

Off to take a shower before subdivision two starts in half an hour. Wonder if and who we'll see on Russian television...

09 August 2008

Olympics

Did I show you this picture I took when the Olympic torch came through St. Petersburg? (If so, just marvel in its beauty once again. I like this picture and am not going to go check.)


I love watching the Olympics! I, like so many others, am partial to figure skating in the Winter Olympics and gymnastics in the Summer Olympics. I also love watching equestrian events. For the last two summer Olympics, I was living in England. I had no idea how biased sports reporting is. When watching gymnastics in 2000, there was a huge roar that went up from the crowd. The presenter (they present rather than commentate) said, "That's just the Americans cheering for one of their gymnasts." And then they didn't show us what had happened!

I am very happy to have US coverage of the Olympics. I know that it's biased--it has to be. But, Americans have big hearts. We love a good determination-filled story--and an underdog. I feel like the coverage on US television is more representative of the entire games, that we get to follow not only the stories of US athletes, but also stories of athletes from around the world--especially those that are very skilled or have faced enormous odds.

And I get to see why the Americans are cheering.

Volleyball is on right now. I don't even care about volleyball, but it's the Olympics, it's live, and I'm watching it. Japan is looking tough--passing well and blocking our 6'7" (seriously) player. But the crowd, the CROWD is oohhh-ing the big rallies and chanting "U-S-A!"

It sounds like the Olympics to me.

(ps How 'bout the little nine-year-old boy who accompanied Yao Ming and the Chinese flag at the opening ceremony? He was trapped in the Sichuan earthquake last May and, after getting free, went back and helped to free two classmates from the rubble. When asked why he went back (Who would ask why he went back? Of course you go back!), he replied, "Well, you see, I am a leader in the class. That was my responsibility." Way to go, Lin Hao!)

reply

1. The floors are *not* wood. They are plastic. They are photographs of wood put on plastic. I was surprised at how nice they looked in the photos. They don't look or feel nice in person.

2. No sun really is a big deal for me. It's August and I've been treating SAD for the last six weeks. I know what to do--get out, exercise, eat a banana, take some St. John's wort. But, the thing is, when you're in the middle of SAD, sometimes that seems too hard. Sometimes you just want to sit around in your pajamas...and you wonder how necessary a shower really is. (But, if you don't shower, you won't go out and take a walk or buy bananas. Tricky, eh? It all hinges on the bathroom. Get to the bathroom--that's where both the shower and the St. John's wort are.)

Mind over matter. Get up. Move. Clean. Eat. Do. I just have to be much more purposeful about these things when there is no sun. And sometimes I do just sit in my pajamas--but not two days in a row. I wonder, if I'm treating myself like it's January now, what January in this flat will actually be like.

3. I'm glad you liked my cozification of the living room. I do, too. It's a nice place to sit around in your pajamas. ;>

05 August 2008

boxes & later

I don't really have before and after pix of the inside of my new flat...because I never saw it "before" and I don't know if I'll ever make it to "after". But, I do have pix of "boxes" and "later" (which I just took for you today).

(I hate it when a television epi starts exactly the way the epi before it ended, so that was a JOKE!)

You enter the house and come into the kitchen. The entry is very tight. My desk wouldn't fit. You creep around a giant standing closet, hugging the wall, and come into the kitchen.

<-Here is the box- (and stupidity-) filled kitchen
and there it is later -->
(less stupid but far from brilliant). The person who designed it made it sound good on paper...but didn't make it very functional.


Can you see the edge of the round table in the boxed picture? It took up soooo much room! It extended further than the tumble dryer and went all the way to the 'fridge. That made it impossible to get into the cabinet below and really difficult to get around the kitchen.

Here, on the right, is more evidence of stupidity. The opened cabinets in the picture on the right aren't really cabinets. Instead, they are a water heater, a drying rack, a dishwasher and a washing machine. And those cabinets on the far right? Really difficult to open.


That's a clothes drying rack opened to try to show you how small the kitchen is. (With the stupid table it couldn't fit.) The kitchen photographs much larger than it is because I can stand in the living room to take the pictures. Still, with that round table taken down, it's much better. (Behind the door is the downstairs shower room and sauna that is now storage.)



This was and is the living room. The couch was crammed under the window with the tv in the corner. The table took up most of the room. There was an armchair under the stairs.

I undecorated and re-arranged furniture, putting the table under the window and the couch and chair grouped around the fireplace. I moved the tv and my computer to this area and added a rug. The dresser, which was in my bedroom in my last flat, now holds dvd's and a few videos--movies in the top drawer, tv in the middle, children's in the bottom. I couldn't really do anything with the landlord's china cabinet, though I was tempted to fill it with books. Instead, my books are in the baskets by the window...and the blue tubs under the stairs...and the boxes in the sauna. The cheap, yellow fabric of the couch and chair are encased in my slipcovers and new pillow cases from IKE@. My pb striped pillows always make me happy.

This is my favorite room in the house.



This is the room at the top of the stairs. It is meant to be the computer room. I tried to use it that way. But, there are no windows in this room. It was just too depressing to spend as much time up there as I spend on the computer. So, now it's the kitten's room. Eventually it could be a guest room (the taupe-slipcovered couch pulls out into a bed...though not a comfy one) or just more storage. Again, this room is s-m-a-l-l. I don't know why they didn't make two good-sized bedrooms with windows and a nice, large bathroom out of this top floor instead of putting in useless rooms and miniscule bathrooms.



This is my bedroom. It's a nice, large room. The wardrobe is ridiculous. I cannot even touch the hanging bar when I stand on my tiptoes.




At the end of the stairs, there was another couch. ANOTHER couch. There are four couches and two big armchairs in this place. I moved this one into the shower in the downstairs bath. I put my laundry stuff in its place--the rolling hamper and ironing board. Now, I've swapped that and moved the laundry things to my room and suitcases to this space. The catbox is behind the door. There is no room for it in my (now) polka-dotted bathroom that is the size of an airplane bathroom with a tub stuck on the side. Seriously. The only thing you can't see in the picture is the sink.

And this darling room (ha!) is the one for d2b. Yep. This could be why I got so upset. But, we moved the armchair to the useless computer room and then I moved the couch and covered it with the duvet cover from my last flat's guest room. Not knowing if I'll be here when she/they come home or if I'll be moving to another flat, I didn't buy a bed. (In the other flat, the second bedroom has a bed. Shocker.) And, since I don't know if "d" is singular or plural yet, I don't know if I need a twin bed or bunkbeds. Either way, it will go where the couch is in the boxed picture. That spot now is filled with orphanage donations...which I can deliver when my car is fixed. (Some are for Christmas. 'Most every time I go to the store, I pick something up either for the girls in 3.10 or for Christmas presents.) But, you can see that the tote bag from France is hanging on the doorknob, Noah's ark is on the wall, the doll's cradle is filled with friends (no dolls until I know what d2b looks like...), and the closet is organized.


And that's it! I hope you liked the tour. I think I've done a good job with what I had...and knowing that this temporary home needs to feel more home than temporary.

p.s. This post took forever to compile...though I have no doubt it will not publish as it previewed... so enjoy!

04 August 2008

new flat

Okay, okay...but it's not as exciting as you are making it out to be.

Here's my building again.

But, instead of having the top four windows on the left-hand side, now you go in through the center gate (under the middle balcony) and enter the courtyard. (It's too narrow between the back of the part of the building I used to live in and the center part of the building for me to take a picture of it all. It's a narrow, rectangular space. Below is about one-third of the courtyard.) These doors used to belong to the stable. (Obviously, they're being restored as we photographed.) I walk through the tunnel to the right of the doors.

Coming out of the tunnel, the courtyard greenspace we were teased with is on the left (I didn't take this picture--the realtor did in November. There were people on the benches the day I did this photo-essay for you, so I didn't photograph it. I am not suitably dressed to go out of the house and re-take this picture for you today.) but I go to the right, through this little tunnel

into my courtyard, turning right again after the tunnel. That's my door on the far right. Can you see that my flat is below ground-level from these pix? You go two step down from the entry level. Nice security bars. And I really do have the nicest windows. The door on the left, under my bedroom and beside my living room, has a loud beeping security system. And, as we can tell by the white plates, neither of those cars parked right outside my flat is mine.

And these are my noisy upstairs neighbors. I can hear e-v-e-r-ything that goes on up there. Seriously. Sometimes I wake up thinking there's someone in my room. (That hasn't happened in a while. I must be acclimating.)

This is what you see if you stand with your back against my door. (Remember, it is my own door. That's very nice! It's one of those little things that ex-pat living makes me appreciate.)You can't see this much sky from inside the house. Wasn't it a beautiful sky this day?

This is looking up, to try to show you the well-like quality of my courtyard.
See what I mean when I said that I went from the family's rooms to the working part of the house? I bought a shopping cart (I call them babushka bags) to get groceries from the street to my door--with a hand still free for d2b. In the winter I'm going to use a sled. ;>

I don't really have before and after pix of the inside of my new flat...because I never saw it "before" and I don't know if I'll ever make it to "after". But, I do have pix of "boxes" and "later" (which I just took for you today). I'll post those for you tomorrow. I'd do a slide show, but I think I need to commentate.