31 March 2009

advantage, Kate

I thought that living in Russia would be both better for d2b and would make things easier for me to adopt. I was woefully mistaken on the last count. But, I still think that there are aspects of my living here that will make me a better parent to my Russian-born child/ren. (Yes, I plan to raise them to be proud of being an American. I'm not one to hyphenate when it comes to being American.) Surely living here has its advantages.

Let's see...

I can visit between trips. Oh. But I'm not going to be adopting locally, so that's out.

I can communicate in Russian. Well, actually, I'm more of a survival-Russian-speaker than a conversationalist. And baby talk is as different in Russian as it is in English. No one thinks to teach you the baby talk. You learn "stomach" not "tummy", "cat" not "kitty", "pajamas" not "jammies".

I understand more of the Russian culture and mindset. I don't know how that really helps, though.

I won't have to make as many international flights. But, I will have to make TWO trans-Atlantic flights with d2b immediately following getting custody. Those are the flights that AP's either tell horror stories about or have blacked out from their memories. I'll have two instead of one.

I won't be jetlagged for my first trip. THAT's a good thing! I don't do well when I'm tired.


Yeah. No jetlag. Okay...

I'll take it.

29 March 2009

more genius

Though I'm decidedly not a fan of the genre there are a few reality tv shows that I watch (some of the Bravo set and The Amazing Race). Somehow, I view the the Bravo shows as educational programming.

Project Runway has turned me into a design genius. Of course, I still haven't managed to hem the last round of trousers that were sent to me... But my fairy costumes looked great!

Top Chef has turned me into a gourmet chef...who could still live on peanut butter and Coca Cola.

So now I'm watching old series of America's Next Top Model in hopes of dropping some pounds and looking fierce. You've got to admit, this is the best weight-loss plan I've had since I put my cat on a diet. (Go ahead. Click it.)

Ooo...maybe I should start watching Millionaire Matchmaker...

28 March 2009

clash of the cultures

Teaching in an international school (well, teaching in my school) means not only teaching TCK's and with other ex-pats (both of whom have a cultural background that is similar to mine, whether by experience or by inculcation) but also with people from a completely different world view. Our school is small and has a higher proportion of locally-hired teachers to foreign (US/UK/Canadian...though we're all US right now) -hires than other international schools. The local hires have a large majority--though the foreign-hires tend to drive the program. Sometimes this is great. Sometimes, frankly, this is just an annoyance.

One of our teachers, in particular, drives me and all the ex-pat "foreign hire" teachers crazy. She's a "local hire". There are many things about her teaching that drive me crazy that might or might not have anything to do with where she was hired, but I suspect it does.

She has *no* control over her class. They are loud, disobedient (to her, not me) and completely rule the roost. Seriously--it's Lord of the Flies in there. I'm worried about d2b being in that unstructured class. This teacher was appalled when I suggested she just tell her students they couldn't do something. "I could never say no to them." I replied, "I say no to them every day." She thinks they are...who knows? I think her expectations for them both academically and socially are entirely too low. She's always late and, quite frankly, is lazy. These challenges, I suppose, might be encountered in any school (though I haven't ever met a teacher like this).

But then there are those little challenges that just blindside me. We're planning a K-8 activity day that student council really wanted. It's all egg-related activities in celebration of Easter. We're doing it on Monday because the rest of the week we have teachers out.

I got an angry, spiteful e-mail from her after trying to help sort out her objections to Monday. She doesn't want to prepare things before then but won't choose an activity that requires less preparation--I suggested one that student council wanted and offered to change the time table and got slammed. She also slammed me for suggesting another activity and for e-mail it. (Ummm..I had playground duty before school and student council at recess so I e-mailed everyone an update while my kiddos did their morning journal. I was going to go and make the rounds at lunch. Instead I went home with a migraine. Huh. Wonder why.)

Okay. So that's all school politics. No, I've never taught with someone like this, but it can't completely be blamed on culture. (Well, the no-education-for-five-year-olds IS cultural...but not the horrible e-mail.) But then she had the gall to say that what was bothering her was that we were wasting food and that was disrespectful of the people--including her grandmother--who lived through or died in the siege.


So now I don't know if she was bitchy because of her dead grandmother or manipulatively bringing up the siege (you can't argue with the siege) because she was feeling bitchy about not getting the day she wanted. I, perhaps unfairly, suspect the latter. Fortunately, my other ex-pat teachers leapt into the fray and had my back. They even pointed out that buying eggs (some to play a RUSSIAN Easter game and others to decorate in the UKRAINIAN style and the rest to conduct a science experiment) was helping the local economy.


Just another little culture clash.

Our art teacher is a whole culture clash of her own.

23 March 2009

kindle, part 1

It's here! And I've already put about seven books on it.

So far, I'd say that it's something I'll use here in Russia, but won't use in the states. It's good for traveling as you can fit over 1000 books on it. But, it's not a book. And I like books.

Still and all, I'm happy to have it. And I was even happier to find that there are books that you can get for FREE on kindle. Who knew? And that fact that there are several Wodehouse books in amongst those freebies is a HUGE score.

More soon. I've got "books" to read.

18 March 2009

doing mischief in the woods

Have been caught up in fairy dresses, charmed flowers and other Midsummer magic. We open tomorrow! I'll be back soon.

(No news for the ia groupies, anyway.)

13 March 2009

if it's spring...eta

Edited to answer below

..then these sights should soon be a thing of the past. The first picture is right beside my front door. (Note: The fact that I have my own door was important enough to be mentioned in my Russian hs. Rightly so! It's my favorite feature of my current flat.) The second is on the street outside my building.

The red tape is found all over the city right now. It warns you that the storm pipes are melting and may come crashing down. There is another one right outside my bedroom window. The grand whooshing it makes give me a thrill reminiscent of the one brought on by thunder. I love thunder. It reminds me how mighty God is. And melting drainpipes remind me of thunder which, in turn, reminds me of the awesome power of God. Digression. Sorry.

The warning tape also marks melting icicles, snow being shoveled off roofs and generally any falling object that may impale you.

Note there is no red tape on the broken drainpipe. I guess it whooshed too powerfully.

"Spring" is actually a misnomer, Debbie. The season that follows winter is "Mud Season". The city will be filled with and mired in deep, gooey, sticky, smelly mud. Mud Season is followed by "Tourist Season" in St. P which overlaps with "Sleep Deprivation Season" (like basketball and football seasons overlap) in which all American ex-pats walk around like zombies because it never gets DARK here. Good times ahead...

12 March 2009

<8! (quite a bit less)

Here's another e-mail for you. This one was in reply to my checking on the estimated wait time and how many families were in line in front of me. I didn't get an answer to the second question, but was very pleased to hear this variation on the previously predicted 3-8 months:

Hi Kate,
Happy belated women's day!...I would say you are looking at closer to 3 months, maybe 4 or 5. It's hard to say at the moment, but I may be able to give a better estimate in a couple of weeks.

We could still be home while I'm in my thirties if this holds true!

09 March 2009

maslenitsa pix

We started out our day by playing some outside games and then burning the large, straw maslenitsa. While it burned, we circled around (and were supposed to be reciting a poem in Russian...but...). When it collapses, the people it collapses towards will have good luck. It collapsed directly away from me. Good thing I don't believe in luck. Here is the group (grades 1,2 and 4) with the bear and our games guide gathered around the remains of the maslenitsa.
We all went in and ate pancakes together! (Yeah, forgot to take pix...hoping another teacher did.) Then we went inside to make crafts (like the traditional doll that I forgot to take a picture of--come back tomorrow) and play games. In this game, the Papa bird, with the boy birds behind him in a train, flies through the windows which close when the music stops. What ever birds are caught inside become part of the circle.

There was a Mama bird train, too. We also played a game with the boys chasing girls through the circles. The windows open and close trying to protect the girl. In past years, we've sung songs and played other games. Our guide recognized me and commented on what an expert I was on traditional games and songs!

Then we headed out to the slides! There wasn't ice, but we still had a good time. Here are two of the three slides.

It was fun...

...at times painful...

but over all a fantastic experience! Look at the joy on my little SM's (yes, from all the esl stories) face.

We ended the day by climbing on a huge snow pile before our bus ride back to the city. This is my favorite field trip every single year.

08 March 2009

Three years closer!

DaisypathAnniversary Years Ticker

That's 1096 sleeps closer to having d2b home. (Hey-in 15 days it'll be 1111 days. That's a cool one!)

Happy Women's Day!

You know, Women's Day here in Russia is a celebration of all women--married and single, working and not, daughters and mothers and grandmothers, the women of today and the girls who will be the women of tomorrow. Russians don't celebrate Mother's Day. They celebrate all women. I really, really like that.

It was a conscious decision to announce my adoption plans on this day. But, somehow, this anniversary seems even more fitting this year. I think it's one I'll celebrate the rest of my life.

I'm wondering what d2b is doing to celebrate.

05 March 2009

re: anybody else?

Good to know I'm not alone at trying to manipulate time.

It's not a depressed, hide-away-until-tomorrow kind of wanting to hurry to bed and then to tomorrow.

It's more like Christmas eve when you go to bed early so that Christmas will come sooner.

Pix tomorrow of our trip to the Russian village (if there are any that are post-worthy).

03 March 2009

anybody else?

For a long time now I've hurried home from school and waited for it to be 11 a.m. Eastern time. I check blogs and forums and e-mails (in that elusive and ridiculous quest to know what's going on) and have a little dinner. Then, I check my e-mail. If there's no news then I'm in a hurry for the evening to end, for it to be late enough for me to go to bed. Because as soon as that day, that newsless day, is over another one can begin. That new day is one day closer to d2b. That new day still has the possibility of being a newsful day. And I want to get to that day as soon as I possibly can.

This strange anticipation of 7 p.m. followed by a rush to get the day over and myself to bed is decidedly not typical of me. But, it has become typical of this adoption journey of mine. I just wanted to remember it.

Anybody else have a new cycle to their days during the wait?

01 March 2009

February books

Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

I'm a Shakespeare nut, so directing MSD has given me a good nudge to go back and re-read. Reading (and directing) is, in some ways, better than acting in them because then I get to be everyone!

First Love by Ivan Turgenev

This was sitting unread on my shelf, given to me by friends who were packing out. It's a pretty quick and easy read if you're wanting just a little Russian lit.

Shopaholic & Baby, Undomestic Goddess
by Sophie Kinsella

I was needing some chick-lit and my usual friends-- The Dashwood sisters, the Bennet girls, Bridget Jones and Thursday Next--have all been called upon so frequently of late that I couldn't slip into their worlds. I was thinking ahead to what would happen next instead of losing myself in their stories as they unfolded. I had picked them up and tried, but needed something I knew less well. These two had only had one read apiece and so filled the moment nicely. I am not looking forward to the Shopaholic movie, though. It looks a little flat--with none of the bubble and spark. And, as irresponsible as Americans have proven themselves to be of late, I think Becky's spending (and particularly her reliance on her overdraft) are more British than American. Renee Zellweger was the perfect Bridget Jones. But, she immersed herself in that world. Taking away Becky Bloomwood's UK passport is a big mistake.

Size 12 is Not Fat
by Meg Cabot

Not sure why this image is so big. This book was fine. I could read more in this series. But, I won't read this again. Well...unless I'm desperate. This was (I think) someone's airplane book that got donated to our school library. It's a good airplane book.

Love Happens by Sarah O'Brien

I suspect this is another airplane book. It was very forgettable, neither a good book nor a bad book. It had moments of good...but only moments.

When Will Good News Come by Kate Atkinson

Any guesses as to what drew me to this book? ;> It's a murder, well, not mystery. There's not much mystery to this at all. There are several disparate stories here that don't really come together. It seems to be part of a series, so perhaps I'd've liked it better if I'd read the previous books first. But, maybe not. Several of the characters were likable. I think it would've been a better book if only two of the stories had been in it. There were just too many--and there really didn't need to be.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

I thought this was a very good book. It was well-written and kept me interested in the characters and their decisions. Like many Opr*h book club books, this was not a happy book. (What's with that? Doesn't she choose any happy books? It's gotten so that if anyone tells me it's an OBC book I just stay away.) But, I thought this was a good read.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I'm not quite finished with this one, but near enough for it to be listed in February and not in March. After my discovery of Wives and Daughters last month, I thought I should give this book another chance. There's no doubt it's a good book, but I just don' t like it as much. It's not as satisfying a read to me, because I don't like the setting as well (Northern manufacturing city as opposed to Southern rural) but it is certainly well-written. It's so nice to be able to trust an author and relax into her written world. I know that she will bring these characters to a satisfying and appropriate end.

I'm surprised to see that I read only fiction this month. Interesting. Next month I'm planning some more Gaskell, and, if they arrive, suggestions from Nif (Austenland) and Debs (Honey for a Woman's Heart). Keep those recommendations coming! The next time you indulge in a browse through your local library, pulling books off the shelf as the covers strike (I do judge books by their covers) and reading the blurb on the back (I hate it when there are only reviews and no blurbs. I don't read those because who would put a bad review on a cover? Worthless.), spare a thought for me.

Oh--I ordered a kindle! So, I should be able to more easily get my hands on books...of a sort. And, I won't have to ship them home. If they're fab, I can always buy a real copy when I"m back. I'm not sure I'll put d2b books on there, though.

Happy reading!