27 August 2006

a plate full of nothing

How can this be? My plate is overwhelmingly full, as the allusion goes, and yet...

I have no car. The car I was supposed to have 1 July is still not transferred to my name. It might start being transferred next week, but it might not. And, it might cost quite a bit more than I anticipated to de-register it when I leave if I cannot sell it.

I have no garlic, onions, potatoes, parmesan or skim milk. Truth be told, all that's in my 'fridge is yogurt, some dodgy juice, ketchup, pricey soy sauce and LUSH products. The freezer holds frozen fruit. (I was on a fruit drink kick when it was hot, but now that it's cooled off...not so much.) I'm making soup and chicken & rice to get me through the week until I get to the store. I do have a bag of frozen red currants on my stomach because I burned myself cooking my last package of chicken breasts. I have no frozen peas, but the currants are working well.

I have no adoption news. I'm waiting for letters from other people to arrive so that I can get answers from the MoE committee. Therefore, I have no control over when we schedule our next meeting to get some answers about how to proceed.

I have no BBC Prime, although they assure me that the card is on it's way. I thought it was amusing that my cable guy (yes, I meant to use the possessive) told me regretfully that all the satellites here have been reset so that now people have to buy the channel subscriptions legally. There was no remorse for the pirating done previously--just regret that those days were over.

I have no more episodes of X-files to watch. I've seen them all--and the movie, too--in chronological order. (I have to say, that I think Dogget is a well-written, well-acted character. He's just not Mulder. And, really, we all want to see Mulder and Scully.)

I have no joy in second grade yet. My class is HIGH maintenance. Right now I feel like I'm playing whack-a-mole. As soon as I sort out one issue, another pops up. And, it's not uncommon to have several issues/moles rearing their little heads simultaneously. We will, we MUST, get this sorted soon. It's only been four days...

I have no idea where we'll perform the school play ("Peter Pan" this year). Auditions are tomorrow.

I have no time.

I have no patience with blogger's spell-check which makes ridiculous suggestions when I type too fast and miss a letter.

I have had no blogs updates for a week! I'm sorry. Thanks for hanging in there. Looks like this is the norm for the next two months...

I hope your plates are emptier, or, at the very least, have less "nothing" on them.

20 August 2006


I thought I'd better dash off a quick post before you all lose interest and abandon the blog.

Yes, it's that time of year again. It's the time when I cease being a person and begin being a teacher. I've spent the last week getting my classroom ready for a new group of kiddos. I was one of three teachers in our school who didn't move classrooms this year. I was pleased as my classroom is inarguably the best in the school. I should've had the easiest set-up of everyone this year. Instead, I decided to paint. Never have I ever painted a room that has taken even half as long as painting this room. (And, since I'm in Russia, it took an entire day to get the paint...) So, it's Sunday night, parents and students arrive tomorrow and I'm not as ready as I'd like. I refused to go in today, so it'll be an early morning tomorrow.

"Peter Pan" starts next week. That means even LESS time for me (although I feel more like a person than I do when I'm teaching) and less time for the blog. I'll keep you posted--but I'm sure the posts will be less frequent until mid-October. Please stay tuned...

No adoption news. The MoE committee will not answer any further questions until my home ownership is sorted. Since I'm feeling rather conspicuous as the first ex-pat adopting in St. P, it's best for me to say little. I feel like it's that mythical 22 years ago with big brother, indeed, watching.

Must dash!

14 August 2006

case in point

I have long maintained that Ohio is the most bureaucratic state. This is not a good thing, imho (please read h as "humble" ). In fact, that aforementioned long-maintained statement is generally preceded by a vehement, "This is the most poorly run state I've ever been in!"

I don't think it's a coincidence that while trying to update my license online, I was directed *not* to the Department of Motor Vehicles for Ohio, but rather to the BUREAU of Motor Vehicles. HA! I rest my case.

And now a little quiz to make up for my spewing. Take it and see which Princess Bride character you are--and then let us all know! As you can see below, I am most like Westley (as in "Oh, my sweet"). I, nach, was a little upset at not being the lovely heroine, but concede that the quiz is probably right. Loyal, clever and loving sounds pretty accurate...and very flattering. ;>

Westley / The Dread Pirate Roberts

Which Princess Bride Character are You?
this quiz was made by mysti

The Dread Pirate Kate

12 August 2006


On the bottom of my acting resume, under the heading "Special Skills" there is a list of random things I can do that a casting director may find useful. At the end of that line, right after stage combat, it says "child charming".

I am a child charmer. I don't use a pipe and a basket, but I do seem to captivate children. Some of this is experience. But most of it, I think, is that I simply understand children. The same things that make me a good actor or a good psych student--excellent focus and listening skills and lots of empathy, the ability to play or be very still, a grasp of motivation--make me a child charmer. I guess.

I'm very confident around children. I feel like I know what I'm doing. Then I started reading about adopting post-institutionalized (pi) children. So many things about interacting with them is different. I encourage independence in children. PI children are too independent. They have spent their lives fending for themselves and need to be taught to trust and be dependent upon a parent.

Both spanking and time-outs are ineffective discipline measures. Spanking (and we're not talking in-the-heat-of-the moment; I mean calmly, lovingly, matter-of-factly with reconciliation afterwards), when you don't know the history of abuse, can be traumatizing or, at the very least, counter-productive. Time away from the scary world of "attaching" and being close is exactly what these children want. It is not a punishment to have time away from Mom--it's comforting, familiar territory.

Co-sleeping (in the same room or the same bed) is highly recommended for attachment. Watching videos/tv facilitates language building. (I still think I may be able to outtalk the tv...) Healthy food available 24/7 is advised to reduce hoarding behaviours. These are not things that I anticipated doing as a parent.

I was talking to my sister about these differences and she said that by adopting I'm levelling the playing field. That no one is supposed to know anything when having a child. (Amy, Lara thought that was very funny.)

I know that all the differences above are suggestions and "book learning"; that each child is unique and reacts according to both her own past experiences and her own personality. I'm glad I've read it, though. It will help when d2b gets home and we have to start peeling away past hurts and insecurities. (That made me think of Eustace in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" when Aslan takes off his thick, dragon skin and leaves him feeling very small and tender.) It's good to have someplace to start. But, I still think a little "deep listening" and child charming will stand me in good stead.

09 August 2006


When I was growing up, Colorado Springs was a small city (it's not anymore) and Manitou Springs was tiny. Manitou is...up (please--did you really expect a cardinal direction from me?) from Co. Spgs. It is such a small town that when we were growing up their parades did not include any horses. There was no budget for clean-up.

A parade in Colorado is not a parade if it's horseless. So, the Manitou parade folk decided to let local children be the horses. They could dress up in any horse-like ensemble they wanted and be in the parade. One year, my sister and I were in the parade. I wish I could post pictures of that for you. I know there are pictures of it because we were in the paper--but I don't have them. Trust me--we were so cute. I know we marched along and there were other kids on bikes and in stollers. There were bands playing, people waving from convertibles and spectators lining the streets. We were part of the parade.

Here in Russia, there are many, many parades.Every holiday gets a parade. But, the parades are not a group effort (except for Victory Day when everyone turns out). Parades here are one group of people marching. They might get a police escort before and after, but generally life just goes on around them. There are no crowds lining the streets. They parade simply for themselves. I find this a little odd.

Last week there was a parade outside my window. When I called a friend to ask why, she told me it as "some military day". It was a bigger parade than ususal--they'd blocked off the street and more people were involved. This parade lasted about four minutes. Below are some photos for your enjoyment. Didn't want to let this parade pass you by...

08 August 2006

re: the committee meeting

Thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes. I
went into the meeting today feeling confident.
But, things seem a little grim right

The committee was two women in an office. It
didn't look anything like the X-files--no csm in
sight. Both women were nice and helpful.
However, there is a big problem with my petition
because I do not own property in the US anymore.
I was told previously that having my residency
letter from the consulate was enough, but things
seem to have changed.

Two of my agency reps will go back and present my case again on
Thursday, and will hopefully reach a better
conclusion. My agency is confident and encouraging.

More then...

07 August 2006

turn around

My meeting tomorrow is at 3:00 p.m. I'm actually looking forward to it now. Thank you all for your prayers on my behalf. They have certainly helped to alter my attitude! I'll let you know how it goes.


05 August 2006

dom, sladkee, dom

I love this picture. These are the stairs leading up to my flat. It's really an imposing entryway--wide, clean and with these amazing stained glass windows. Sadly, you can see that one was destroyed. I'm amazed that ONLY one was destroyed. These stairs give you an idea of how grand this building once was. A friend is doing some research for me to find out who used to live here.

This is my re-vamped living room. I slipcovered everything, bought new curtains (PB) and a rug (IKEA), and put up pictures. I think I've managed to banish the brown!

Obviously, it's the kitchen. It opens to the living room with a large arch. On the 'fridge are pictures of my neice and nephew, my friends' children and my "hottie brothers" (so christened by friends in England). Yes, there are more PB slipcovers here. I wasn't a big fan of the slipcover until I lived in a flat full of furniture that I did not choose. These chairs are very 70's--curved frame with a floating, holey, wicker seat. Hence the slipcovers.

d2b's room and wardrobe are still works in progress... PBK quilt, Laura Ashley duvet, cuddly toys from Sainsbury's UK and a bear I bought ages and ages ago, a Noah's Ark poster from my first year teaching (paid for with my own money rather than school funds b/c I knew I'd want to hang it in my child's room someday)...and Hannas sized for ages 2-6. (note to Mom: This does *not* mean that you can start shopping. ;> )

Here is my room. Note its lovely green-with-pine-boughs wallpaper. Ugh!

An attempt to show you how tall my ceilings are. Do you see the step down in front of the fireplace? I think that was the original floor level for all the rooms. (That's the level you enter the flat, too. There's a space to leave your shoes and then you take a step up for the rest of the flat.) Then, when they rennovated this to "Western standard", they put all the wiring, plumbing, etc. in the floors. The door leads to the family bath. What's on the mantle? It's covered by the wrap I wore to Lara's wedding. On it you'll find a tiara Faith made me out of sparkly pipe cleaners, a panda Mary Helen got me (looong ago) and made a fringed dress for and a photo of me and Mads from when she was a little squirt back in NC.

Here is my giant wardrobe collage! It's an original made with paintings and drawings, photographs, greeting cards and treasures. The Miller sibs are here. And, there is original artwork by both the Hoggan girls. My favorite sleepy picture of Emily in Wyoming is up there, too.

The aforementioned family bath. I've done my best to disguise the pumpkin-coloured tiles by adding lots of white--and the striped IKEA curtain. The floors are heated. The washer and dryer are in here, too. It's a nice, large bathroom. (Click to see the pic if photobucket is being cantankerous. The image has been neither moved nor deleted.)

And, the guest room. It's a funny shape, so it's hard to photograph. The walls are orange(!) so I've tried to work with that...not easy for a "winter" like me...

There's a guest bath, too, but it's the same tiles as the family bath, so I won't bother with a pic. (It has a cute, Target, polka-dot shower curtain and three dot IKEA rugs.)

That's all for now! Hope you've enjoyed the tour of my palatial flat. You can see now, perhaps, why I was so happy to stay.

New Address

Notice how I avoided a clever title to this post. I wanted you to be able to find this post quickly when you have something to mail me. (My birthday isn't too far away...) This is a US address, so you save tons of money on postage.

PSC 78, box L
APO, AE 09723

The best news, although it's not news so I'm very sorry for not getting the word out sooner, is that I'm staying in my flat for another year. When the school went to sign for my new flat (which was much smaller and not v. child-friendly), the landlord upped the price by $100 pcm. Deciding that was NOT the sort of person they wanted to be dealing with, they called it off. Hooray! So, I'm still at my flat.

The top four windows on the left are mine. I'll take you on a tour in the next post...


03 August 2006

in the aftermath

I just felt gobsmacked during that last post. This visit was just so unexpected. After sending out some e-mails and trying not to hyperventilate (never had that problem before), I decided to walk to school. (It's only a mile away.) Walking is always a good choice for me. I do some of my best praying on my feet. I knew there were boxes of books and dvds that I'd shipped from England. And, I hoped there would be something else.

I bumbled around trying to find a sock that I kept losing. At the time, this was all-consuming. Finally dressed, I headed out. I didn't do much praying. I was still breathing unsteadily and certainly didn't want to burst into tears as I was crossing Troiksy Most. My heart and my mind were racing. But, I was able to do a little praying. I was able to ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for me and to take every step, every breath as a prayer. I calmed down. I know that I tend toward the dramatic at times (hey--that earned me a decent living, so don't knock it) and was ready for my calmer, more rational, logical self to return. I was also hoping.

My hopes were rewarded and those footstepped prayers answered! At school I found my notarized homestudy!! Remember that my sw didn't send it to be apostilled? She sent it to me? Hooray!! Now I have my homestudy to take with me on Tuesday. I haven't opened it, but I know it's here--and bears an all-important stamp. Confidence in a zip-up file!

On the way back, my mind and heart were still buzzing. I started thinking about a dress I'd bought in England. (I'm such a girl.) It's really lovely. When I spent too much money on it, I was trying to believe that I could wear it to court in March--rationalizing that a thin cotton dress would be perfect in the very warm court building in March...But now, I can wear it Tuesday! And, I've lost another two pounds since I've been back from England so I'm feeling thinner. Poise in a steel-blue dress!

So, confident and poised I'm ready for Tuesday. But if you'd keep praying for me, that would be even better.


butterflies--the tummy kind

I actually have two rough posts floating around in my head. But you're not getting those today because the butterflies have taken priority.

Remember that my agency rep here was going to ask the committee some questions about how I would fill out my paperwork? I just heard that I have to go before the committee on Tuesday to answer some questions. I'm a little nervous.

I'm hoping I can find out more about what they want to know before I go...

Yes, really big, miracle-grown butterflies dancing around inside me.

I don't suppose anyone has had to see the committee before their dossier was submitted, have they?

Maybe this is good? Maybe by going now I'll have a smoother time later on? Ohhh...me oh my. Surely they won't just tell me "nyet" right now, will they? Can they? Would they? WHY would they?


01 August 2006

5000 words

I know I promised an amzing post once I got the stripes figured out. But, this will be even better. I'm hoping these pictures of St. Petersburg from last winter will tide you over until the next post.

Here's The Church on Spilled Blood. Isn't this what Russia is supposed to look like?

Looking through a bridge at the Moika canal. The smaller canal you can see leads to the Neva.

This is looking across Palace Square at St. Isaac's Cathedral at sunset in December. I was on my way to church for a 4:00 service, so this is probably around 3:40 in the afternoon. St. Isaac's was the only building left un-camouflaged during the seige of Leningrad during WWII. The Russians rightly surmised that the Germans would need it to navigate by and would not destroy it.

Here is The Hermitage--or part of it, anyway.

This is my favourite bridge, Troitsky Most. I took this picture just before they turned the lights off. I love this one. It's one of my favourites.

These photos (taken by yours truly) are framed and hanging on my living room wall along with another of Trotsky Most.



Let me introduce you to our host, photobucket. Photobucket is a truly generous soul who has agreed to host my images for free. I copy them and hand them over. Then Photobucket lets me put them wheresoever I choose.

Hence the stripes!!