30 January 2007

name that book

I know--I should save this post for tomorrow. But, suz had a book-tag up on her blog...and I just couldn't resist.

Open the book you're reading to page 123 and share 6-8 sentences. Then, tag three people to share what they're reading. So,

"Offended me! How could you suppose so? Believe me," and Elinor spoke it with the truest sincerity, "nothing could be farther from my intention, than to give you such an idea. Could you have a motive for the trust, that was not honourable and flattering to me?"

"And yet I do assure you," replied Lucy, her little sharp eyes full of meaning, "there seemed to me to be a coldness and displeasure in your manner, that made me quite uncomfortable. I felt sure that you was angry with me; and have been quarrelling with myself ever since, for having took such a liberty as to trouble you with my affairs. But I am very glad to find it was only my own fancy, and that you do not really blame me. If you know what a consolation it was to me to relieve my heart by speaking to you of what I am always thinking of every moment of my life, your compassion would make you overlook everything else I am sure."

"Indeed I can easily believe that it was a very great relief to you, to acknowledge your situation to me, and be assured that you shall never have reason to repent it. Your case is a very unfortunate one; you seem to me to be surrounded with difficulties and you will have need of all your mutual affection to support you under them...."

Yes, you've found me in the middle of one of my all-time favs, Sense and Sensibility. (I was tempted to put up something from Eyre Affair just so those of you who are scared by its "science fiction" genre would try it...or a page from Wodehouse for those who haven't had the joy...but I'm right now I'm re-reading the Austen cannon once again, so had to play fair.)

Now I want to know what you're reading. (I know, I'm a lousy tagger.) Stick your blog in the comments if you take me up on this one!

two sides of the pond

On that side...
the agency needs to find apostilled documents that were sent to them. Facilitators need to find the check I sent. SW needs to sign agency agreement and send to facilitators. Facilitators need to apostille final documents and send them to this side of the pond.

On this side...
WOW! I met with part of the Russian team and he was brilliant. (This is the person I was instructed not to communicate with since he was "only the translator". Anyone who has used this team knows that's ridiculous.) Not only was he incredibly efficient and proactive (what a nice change) he also gave me a definite timeline for the work he's doing now. He will translate all the documents that need signatures into Russian for me, customizing them as he goes, and will go with me to notarize them by this Friday (best case) or next Friday (worst case). He said that while not extraordinary, my case was unusual and should be treated as such. We were both puzzled by the facilitator's insistence that we not communicate. He said it made much more sense for us to work here since I'm here. He went through my documents and told me what could be tossed out (my medical forms--which aren't needed to file with the committee), what we could do while we wait for the facilitators to send everything, and what I still needed. He took copies of the letters the committee asked for at the last meeting to be approved by them.

He has put a spring back in my step. I was feeling like I'd be trudging through muck for ages and ages. I just become resigned to slow, inefficiency. He showed me how close I am and what needs to be done to get there. And, since I'll be dealing with the Russian office almost exclusively (no "almost" if I have any say in it) once my papers are here, I saw that I'm almost through with the facilitators in the US.

So, good news over here!

28 January 2007

Vada? Nyet!!

I've been watching "Master Chef", a reality programme from the UK. Of course, I watched it (this very same series) while I lived in the UK, so I'm not sure why I bother. I think I remember who wins...

There is a slight cultural difference in watching it here. Everytime they use water from the tap, I panic! ;>


Thanks for your interest in and concern for my new esl student. Truth be told, all but three of my students are esl. I have one student from the US, one from the UK and one from South Africa. The rest are from Sweden, Finland, Germany, Estonia, Czech Republic, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. Most do not speak English at home as their primary language. Many have two "mother tongues" as the result of international marriages.

You've asked how I go about teaching English. We do have an esl teacher, but her time is limited. Primarily, it falls to me to teach all our academics and English to my new students. Once they've gotten a grasp on English (this seems to happen after about 3 months) it's easy to integrate them into our regular curriculum.

Prior to that, I teach the lesson to the whole class and then re-teach the lesson with much demonstration, to the new esl students. What works? I'm not an expert, but here's what I've found in the last two years. Some of it is a conscious choice. Much of it is intuitive. I had to watch myself carefully to see what I do!

*Pantomime This seems obvious, but many of the teachers are hesitant to use it. I'm not afraid to look foolish. And, the humor involved helps the new student and the class to join in a laugh.

*Carry on! Involve the child in the same daily activities of those around them. At school, this involves lessons, projects, etc. We don't stop our day to learn English. We just learn along the way. At home you can narrate what you're doing much as you would with an infant. Cook, sort laundry (great for colors), play games, drive, go to the park, etc.

*Use repetitive vocabulary, avoiding synonyms For example, there are many ways I can tell the class as a whole, "Time for break." "Recess time." "That's enough for now." "Outside!" etc. With new students I give the same phrase and pantomime "Time to go out" while zipping a coat. Every day. When it gets asked back to me, "Go out?" I can slowly add synonyms, "Yes, it's recess time. Time to go out and play."

*Avoid contractions I've realized that I do this not only with esl students, but with any non-native speaker I encounter--including my colleagues. (Actually, I often lapse into this with native English speaker when I've been esl-ing for too long.) I think it helps new speakers hear the negatives more clearly (do not rather than don't) as well as simplifying the language

*Provide breaks from English I structure our days so that we don't have an overwhelming amount of English at one time. We use art, math, music and play to take a break from English.

*Use what works, forget what doesn't Different children are inspired by different things. Some want to talk to their friends. Some want to read. Some want to be able to play sports. Finding what works for each child makes the most sense of all.

*Speak simply but properly My students often try to communicate with our new speakers in cave man speak, "Me go. You come." We acknowledge that they are trying to be helpful and thank them for being a good helper and a good friend. Then, we remind them that they will help x speak English if they speak English properly to them.

*Praise and encourage
Of course! We carry on conversations at whatever level we can. We marvel in progress. My other students, most of whom have btdt, are quick to help celebrate new words and phrases. We are an empathetic class (even if it kills me...) and are quick to celebrate together. My post-recess "reports" as they peal off coats and tell me how much fun soccer was (not who won) often include English updates.

*Sympathize Our constant refrain is "English is a crazy language". This seems to help with homophones, exceptions to rules, etc.

I hope this is what the inquiring minds were looking for when they asked how I teach esl. I'm sure there are many other things we do that help build success. If something jumps out at me, I'll add it. This is just about getting a new student to speak. I teach them to read using a self-devised modified Open Court phonics program. Open Court is great for esl students because it connects a sound to a real-life event rather than to an English work. (ie /m/ sound is linked to ice cream "Mmmmm" rather than to monkey.) I hope this helps!

25 January 2007

actually, no

Enough was not said.

The subtitle of this post is "Teaching Alanis a lesson". I was going to title it that, but wanted to be sure that this post made sense with the earlier one about the e-mail I received from my agency. And, only part of it defines "ironic". The rest is just grist for the mill.

I thought, at first that the e-mail I received yesterday was a reply to an e-mail I sent the day before. But, it was actually a reply to requests made 17 November. These requests were not out of the ordinary. I was just requesting that forms they were responsible for (agency's license, agency agreement, guardian letters that were sent to them) be sent to the facilitators.

I got a response saying that they would start on the documents. It also said, in response to an earlier request that the facilitators made for the agecny to contact my sw (got that?), that the facilitators should be dealing directly with my sw. It continued saying the facilitators did an excellent job of managing documents, staying on top of changes, etc. (There's the irony--it came two months late! How on top of things is that?)

Yesterday I simply agreed that it would be best for them to deal directly with my sw, but said they had been reluctant to do that. I thought that was quite self-controlled of me.

Today, I got another e-mail saying that perhaps I should just forward the messages from the facilitators to my sw so that I would stay current on the requests being made (Irony again--so I would stay current?). I explained that my sw didn't feel it was appropriate for me to be requesting changes to my own hs and that I agreed. (I didn't say that often the facilitator's requests are unclear and demanding and that I didn'twant to be in the middle of it.) I said that I appreciated being kept in the loop, but perhaps I could be cc'd on e-mails. I also asked (okay, in a passive-aggressive way) if perhaps this was a problem that had been resolved as the e-mail being replied to was over two months old. Bad of me, I know.

So, the facilitators sat on the hs for 5 months before asking for changes. Now, another month (one of the two overlapped) has passed waiting for the agency to start working on their forms. That's 6 months of my excellent, on-top-of-things agency and facilitators not behaving in what I'd define as an excellent, on-top-of-things manner!

Guess what. Taxes are due and I got a raise this year. Nice, but it means my 1040 won't match my hs and all the financials will have to be re-done again. And, I still haven't heard from the facilitators here about the forms in Russian I need in order to notarize.

Let's introduce some levity here. I think we need a pool on when my papers will be complete, in Russia and translated. Be realistic not optimistic. The closest guess gets...the satisfaction of being right and a post acknowledging said rightness. Any guesses?

24 January 2007

6 strange things...

Carrie (blog's gone private) tagged me to tell six strange things about myself. However, there is nothing strange about me. There are kateish things that the rest of the world hasn't managed to figure out yet; but I don't think I should be labelled strange just because the world can't keep up. I prefer, unique. Since I'm clearly not strange, I'll share those uniquities. (Like antiquities but from the root "unique".) ;>

1. All my pets have been named for Shakespearian characters.

2. I like standardized tests, diagramming sentences, and correctly using semi-colons.

3. When I'm sleep-deprived my eyes turn from blue-grey to bright green and my pupils contract dramatically.

4. I whistle in instead of out.

5. I have to have the toe seam on my socks straight and all cupboards closed. (There's a whole OC subcategory here, but let's leave it at that.)

6. I've never dreamed that I was flying or that I showed up somewhere naked.

See? Not strange at all. Of course, that's just the tip of the kateish iceberg...

Okay, you unappreciated weirdos out there--tell us six strange or uniquitous (like ubiquitous but from the root "unique") things about you.

adoption share-time

Just got an answer to an e-mail I sent my agency on 17 November. 'Nough said?

23 January 2007


Until this year, I've always described myself as young. I always say, when describing others, "Oh, s/he's young. She's about my age." This was true when I was 22 and when I was 32 and even last year at 36. But, I realized that I haven't said that in months. Is it because I'm out of my mid-thirties and officially "thirty-something" now? Is it because I'm in Russia where the living is hard and I've aged exponentially? Is it because I'm adopting? Children do make you older. I'm the "youngest" of my friends (who are actually younger than me chronologically) because I'm single and without children. I've always been young-looking, so that figures in here somehow... I still have no greys (touch wood) and few "signs of aging". I don't know what it is, but suddenly I've stopped describing myself as young.

But, I don't know what I am, then. I've quit categorizing the young along with me, but, I'm not old. Not yet. I loathe the term "middle-aged". So, you thirty-somethings...what ARE we?

All this age talk reaffirms that adopting in the 4-6 range (as planned) makes sense. It gives me children the age that they'd be if I'd had them when I thought I'd have them. (Make sense?)

That's all. Nothing earth-shattering. Just an interesting kateish insight. (Well, I thought it was interesting...but years of acting have made me rather self-analytical--an acting term for "self-absorbed".)

22 January 2007

radio shack

You've got questions--we've got answers.

(Well, that was Radio Shack's slogan for awhile. Is it still? See-no pop culture.)

Ann Marie--BBC Prime is like BBC America, but for Europe and Asia. I've no doubt that you already have BBC America. If you don't, shame on you. I'm revoking your anglophile status if that's the case.

**Edited to add: We'll just have to count your lack of BBC America as another adoption-related sacrifice. And that's a BIG one for you.

Debbie--Thanks for the internet idea. Unfortunately, you can only watch if you're in the US. How they know, I'm not sure... A friend here has a sling box. THAT is way cool! It's hooked up through her mom's computer to her computer. She can watch anything that's on at home.

Carrie--The only place I can imagine putting my daughter(s) in school is at St. Peter's Episcopal in Chattanooga, Tennessee. All my college friends are now in hysterics. I was never a big fan of Chattanooga. But, that school is amazing--really warm and loving. I can't imagine going anyplace else. I'm just waiting for them to have an opening so I can apply to go back there.

21 January 2007

no place like it

I've got one English tv channel, for which I'm very grateful. BBC Prime is my only opportunity for "shows". It does put me in a weird time warp, because most of the shows are several years old. That, combined with being out of the US for three years, leaves me feeling a little out of touch with current pop-culture.

Right now there are lots of "lifestyle" programs on BBC Prime. It makes me think about what sort of house I want when I come back. I'm REALLY ready to come back...to be home.

I want something that is relatively close to school. I'd like a two-story house with three bedrooms upstairs. Two baths would be great. Downstairs all I really need is a large living room, a good-sized kitchen and an eating area. I'd rather have it attached to the kitchen than have a separate dining room, I think. I'd love the kitchen to be big enough for a sofa and have a fireplace at the end. A fenced back yard would be a big plus.

I love Tudor houses! I can't live in a ranch-style house. I don't sleep if I'm on street-level.

But, I started feeling several years back when I was really longing for a home that "home" wasn't about a house. It's about who lives there. I can't wait to be home!

20 January 2007

quick quote from martha washington

By now you know that I love words. I love playing with them, crafting them, discovering them... There are so many words already spoken, already written that make me pause and say, "Ah, yes. Well put. Very true." I thought I'd share some of my favourites with you. I won't share them all at once, because then you can't savour them. I'll give them to you a little at a time.

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have (also) learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.

Martha Washington

18 January 2007

fun thursday--sooo not

See what happens when you tell me to post the bad and the ugly in addition to the good? You get it.

Today? Well, I had snarky comments from the facilitators (I need a nickname for them ala Ann Marie to distinguish them from my actual agency) when I e-mailed to verify the forms I needed to notarize here, instructions from the notary (passed on to the un-nicknamed facilitators) that I bring my forms in English and Russian, and a landlord who won't give me permission to include my lease in the dossier. Fun.

Edited to add: Fed Ex still hasn't delivered my "overnighted" documents to my sw.

Edited again to add: I've just been informed that the US office doesn't have the forms in Russian and I will have to get them from the Russian office. I say, "Huzzah!" I've not been allowed to speak to them until now.

17 January 2007

too much English

I have a new little girl in my class. We're so glad to have her! Not only is she sweet, sparkly and cute as a button, but this puts our total to 9 boys and 5 girls. Alice doesn't speak any English yet and is encountering schoolwork that is harder than at her previous school. She's hanging in there (and, of course I've made many modifications to help her cope). But, today, it was all too much for her. At 3:00, she just burst into tears and wanted her Papa! I hugged her and reassured her, got her sister to come give her a hug and then helped her to be really busy--with me in close proximity. I also set the timer to 30 minutes so she'd know how much longer she had in school.

It just all got to be too much. I know how difficult it is for me to sit and try to make sense of Russian for an extended period of time. Three days of school in English was just overwhelming. But, she stuck close to me for the last half hour, the class was kind and concerned (whew--but most of them have btdt at some point) and the time ticked away. No more academics for us--just the guessing jar and some rug time instead!

I do love the fact that she continues to speak her mother tongue (mt) to me all them time. I speak English to her--with lots of visual support and pantomime, she asks a question in her mt--completely expecting me to understand her and without any visual cues, and I answer in English--with more visual support. It works pretty well most of the time. She's the most verbal esl student I've ever taught.

She's plucky and determined, so I don't think it will take long until she's speaking. There's just a switch that flips in these children and they go from glassy-eyed to talking. My other two no-English students are now starting to speak, one more than the other. My esl kiddos last year spoke more quickly and more fluently--but one was a CHATTERBOX who was just dying to talk to me and to her best friend. Her determination to speak rubbed off on the other two and so they all made good progress in their spoken and written English.

Today's meltdown made me think of all those new families who brought home a school-aged child. I imagine that the English immersion these children face is often just as stressful...and there's no timer ticking down to the time when they will be back with people who speak their mt. Any stories you want to share?

14 January 2007


**Edited to generalize.

I thought I'd told you all about this, but now I think I complained about the hs on an adoption forum or two and in a yahoo group and then didn't post it here...because I can't find it either, M!! Maybe I was in a paranoia period.

In November, my facilitators looked at my hs which they'd had since JULY, one-two-three-four-five months, and said that it needed to be written in a completely different format.

My sw has been very, very patient with their demands. They keep asking for things we've already done and demanding things they never told us they needed. It's just a huge struggle to get it done their way--not "Russia's" way, although that's what they insist. My sw is also part of a placing agency who does St. P adoptions and she's never heard of the things they're saying are required by the St. P MOE.

The biggest part of the battle comes in attrition.

So, that's where we are. I think we're so, so close to having everything finished. But, I've thought that before.

To give my facilitators the benefit of the doubt, another ap who used them said they never have last minute demands made of their clients once the paperwork gets to Russia. Everyone who uses them has a smooth time in court. So, if I can just figure out what they want and get it to them, I should be jake.

better, Lauren?

Lauren was commenting (rightly so) on the fact that it's hard to keep track of my adoption progress. I can easily see how that's the case since when there's nothing happening adoption-wise that's what I tend to blog--nothing adoption-wise. Otherwise I get whingy and self-indulgent. Who wants to read that? Who wants to write that? Not me! (Okay, so sometimes it slips onto the blog, but I do try to keep those posts to a minimum.)

In an effort to help you keep track of what's happening (or not happening, as the case may be) I popped a timeline over there to the left. Please note there have been no changes since NOVEMBER (and early November at that). I'm hoping to get to add a January event or two. Maybe I should just make up events so that every month has something next to it. Hmmm...


Here are some pictures taken on the way home on Friday to show how the water had receded in just two days. We're still at a higher water level than normal, but you can see it's dramatically lower than it was during our brief, and very exciting, flood.

If only all changes in Russia happened this quickly!

This picuture really shows it all. You can see the arch under the bridge, the round outcropping and the handrailing from the earlier pictures.

While this one is included just because it's pretty. ;>

11 January 2007


Yesterday we had a LOT of water in St. P! It's been so warm (10 C...so 52 F yesterday at 9 a.m. as reported by second grade) that ice upstream has melted. The Neva was very full. We even had the possibility of a DAY OFF today because the sewage and water supply at school was...compromised. Teachers were instructed to take class phone lists home and the office staff was scrambling to locate portable loos.

Unfortunately for those of us who long for "snow days" (a middle school teacher was calling our possibility a "toilet day") the water resided and we had class as usual today. Still, the possibility of a day off combined with the first blue sky we've had in months** had me fairly skipping home. Plus, I love wind. It's just so big and so powerful! I sang all the way across the bridge and out to dinner (at a yummy Georgian place nearby) with friends.

Here are some pictures I took walking home:

I think this captured it best for me. This is a set of steps that leads down to the river. You can usually walk down and, I don't know...fish? Do something with a boat? But check out the submerged handrailing!

This is Troitsky Most. Usually there is room for large hydrofoils to sail under these arches. The round outcropping on the right is street level--usually far above river level.

And this is an attempt to show you a little of the wind. This is looking towards Foundry Bridge and Smolney Cathedral. It's probably about 4:20 p.m. Note the sunset just starting. Days are getting longer!

**Christmas Day, 25 December, was a clear day. But, it was the only clear day we had in December! November wasn't much better. It's been a very overcast autumn. I think I saw more blue sky when I spent winters in England!

10 January 2007

the elephant in the room

I think I'm adopting an elephant.

Some friends of mine who adopted from Russia took nine months, start to finish. Nine months! Nice, huh? I remember telling her I thought it was perfect to have the adoption match the length of a pregnancy. She, of course, felt like nine months was forever.

Well, it's been nine months since my homestudy visit. (That doesn't include the two-and-some years prior that I spent changing careers, paying off debts, and saving to afford the adoption.)

An elephant's gestation is 22 months. I was really hoping for a llama...gestation period of 330 days. (That would put court at the end of March..so it's highly unlikely, but not out of the realm of the miraculous.) Let's hope there are still llama possibilities out there DESPITE all the indications of elephants.

07 January 2007

Watch This Space

Debbie asked what the reaction has been here to the new Family Capital Law. I haven't heard anything yet. (Remember that post about Russia being shut for the holidays?) But, I'll ask around once we're back at work next week and see what people are saying.

Basically, to boost a declining birth rate, Russia has introduced incentives for families to have more than one child--either biologically or through adoption. The government is providing a significant sum of money (250,000 rubles--about $10,000) in the form of a pension account. This is a one-per-family offer whether you have 2 children or 12. The money is a sort of voucher than can be used only for housing, education of any of the children or a pension. I don't really understand the pension part, but will ask.

**Edited to add this summary from an FRUA post:

If the 250,000 rubles was added to the pension fund (still need to clarify what this is), the pension will increase by 1096 rubles/month. The posters says this would buy two quarts of milk daily. (I pay 30 r for a liter for imported fresh milk, so that would be about right.)

The poster says the same amount of money would buy an apartment in Vladivostock (but I think he has his sizes wrong...I think he means sq m and not sq ft) or pay the entrance fee to university.

Safeguards have been included. The "vouchers" are not accessible until three years has passed from the date of the child's birth or adoption. Parents whose parental rights have been terminated, or who cancel an adoption, or who adopt a stepchild do not qualify for the new benefits. Parents who die, or who abuse, abandon, or relinquish their child(ren) pass the rights to the benefits involuntarily to their children. I read that as a person couldn't adopt a child, claim the benefits, relinquish the child and keep the benefits.

I know there has been a lot of panic in the IA community about this. I think most of it is unfounded. From what I've read, it's good idea that may lack funding. I think it's a very positive step that will allow families who otherwise couldn't to stay together. I don't think that it will significantly change the rate of international adoption. I don't think that there has been a great rush to the children's homes (but wouldn't that be great!).

it's all in the timing

I, so I've been told, have an excellent internal clock. I choose to take that as a compliment. This was a great assest in voiceover work where fractions of seconds count. I do generally know what time it is and can accurately predict how long it will take to accomplish a task, make a journey, etc. This is not an extraordinary talent, it's not on my cv under special skills, but it is a useful one.

"It is important to Americans to be on time," a student's parent told me once when she was apologizing for being late. And, I admit that it is important to me. I make every effort to be punctual. I think it's polite. I think it's respectful. However, the rest of the world doesn't necessarily view punctuality the same way. There are very different concepts of time out there. (I have been know to comment somewhat disparagingly on people's "loose concept of time".)

The following is from Mission to Tashkent by F.M.Bailey, a British secret service agent to Turkestan shortly after the Russian revolution. The following took place in October 1918 as he was fleeing the city of Tashkent upon word of his imminent arrest by the Bolsheviks. He was in a critical, life-or-death situation and was being assisted by a Russian guide. It just goes proves the adage, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."

I then learnt one of the intensely annoying failings of Russians of some classes. I was awake and ready early, but instead of starting they lighted a samovar and made tea. This went on till about nine. They then said that it was too late to reach the journey's end planned for that day so we would start at noon and make a short journey to Iskander village and spend the night there. This, of course, meant stopping in another house and giving more people the chance to talk to me and notice me. I could not do much. Markov was the only man who knew who I was and any undue haste or pressure might have made the others suspicious. At noon someone put up another samovar and my impatience was getting unbearable. Markov then said that there was a guard on the road and that we could not pass this till after dark, so it would be unsafe to start till four. At four someone started another samovar and then it was decided that it was too late to start at all and that we would go the next day! I later got used to this sort of thing, but at first under the peculiar circumstances of my case it was somewhat annoying.

This made me laugh! I hope you found it amusing as well. School starts back tomorrow, so my posting is likely to suffer. But, I'll endeavour to do my best!

06 January 2007

interesting article

There is an article in The International Herald Tribune about the way Russia is closed in January. It's not terribly witty, but it is informative. (For those of you who were skeptical when your agencies told you everything was closed in Russia right now, this should be reassuring.) And the note about no traffic is spot-on. For the last week the roads have been clear.

We went to the new Mega Mall last week (Wow--much more than I expected) and it was packed with people. We did not, however, notice couples fighting after a 90-minute lull. Of course, the St. P folks consider themselves far superior to their Muscovite counterparts--so they're either not fighting or just hiding it better.

04 January 2007

mars accuses venus

Edited to add: Thank you all for revealing the skeletons in your bathrooms. You've provided ample ammunition for both the Martian and the Venusian original debaters. (And, Devon, doesn't Timmy understand that having things under the sink is not really convenient? Expecting you to know what you need before you get in the shower is ridiculous. What if you slipped on the floor and broke your head open because you had to get out of the shower to get something? How would he feel then? And the small shower organizer? Mean. Just plain mean.)

A newly married friend has been taking some good-natured ribbing from her husband about the number of things that she deems neccessary to keep in the shower. She appealled to me. Having heard what's in my shower, he has deemed us both atypical and, well, nuts.

So, I'm appealling to you. She's in the US so I can't photograph her shower, but here's what's in the corner of my bath, shelf by shelf:

-2 different shampoos and conditioners (Some days I need more moisture, some days I need more chamomile. You should see how dark my hair is!! When Kat came back she thought I'd coloured it. Nope. Never have. It's just lack of sun!)
-a leave-in conditioner for when I'm in a hurry
-an extra conditioner whose matching shampoo ran out before it did (Okay, that should go...but go where? I can't throw it out. And, I don't want more of that shampoo. So, it stays for conditioner emergencies.)

-LUSH deep conditioner
-LUSH face mask
-LUSH face scrub (angels) in yellow container
-LUSH exfoliator (buffy-but I use it for my hands not my backside) in blue container
-2 Dead Sea body washes, one that exfoliates and one that is just nice (presents from a student's family--thanks, Perelmans!)
-Method lavender shower cream (good for shaving, used only in evenings as lavender is calming)

-2 Dove body washes in different flavours-er-scents (Actually, I only like one and was going to put the other in the guest bath before I took this incriminating photo, but I forgot.)
-Citrusy morning shower gel (Hey--the sun still isn't putting in many hours here and I've got to be awake to face my second graders)
-Allure shower gel (Christmas present from my sister for when I need to be alluring. Thanks, Aims!)
-A pumice stone and Dead Sea foot scrub

I think this is perfectly reasonable. And, with very few exceptions, I use all these products regularly.

So what's the verdict? Atypical and nuts or perfectly reasonable? Atypical-ity is fine by me and a common kateish state, so speak the truth. I can take it. Better yet--show us all what's in your shower! You could be saving a marriage. ;>

03 January 2007

New Year's Eve 2006

Since the cool kids have a slide show up, I certainly need to follow suit. ;>

We had a good NYE. My friend Kat returned from the US that evening. We chatted and watched a movie at her flat. Then, around 11 p.m., we headed over to Palace Square. it was snowing and just georgous out. After getting through the security, we found the crowd to be MUCH smaller than we'd anticipated. The square was only 1/3 full. There were lots of families there. There were people dressed up as all sorts of things--animals, superheros, Dyed Moros, etc. There were also many "young people" roaming about. Kat got bumped by a groups of pickpockets (I really think I've seen two of them at work on Nevsky) but her Jersey instincts kicked in and nothing was taken.

We watched some singing by local children and saw many different Santas from all over the world come and greet the crowd. The North American one said, "Hi. How are you?" We listened to the St. P mayor talk about St. P in 2006. And then, at 11:55 we watched Putin's speech. As the speech ended, the clock in Red Square started chiming midnight. (Since we didn't know that was how it timed out and there was no countdown it took us a few minutes to realize it was midnight.)

Fireworks galore!

Then, as the crowd shifted to one that was more PARRRRTY-oriented, we went home. Not a bad way to say goodbye to 2006 and hello to 2007.

02 January 2007


Usually I love my computer. I can spend hours wandering around cyberspace, looking things up, e-mailing, visiting blogs and adoption forums, browsing through virtual shops and generally wasting time. Living overseas is SO much easier with internet access. I can keep up with friends and family, order things from Amazon, eBay or Target.com... It's a good thing. I think I'd feel very isolated without it.

But, sometimes I approach my computer with dread. I avoid opening my e-mail. My stomach sinks and I just want to shut down. I'm so tired of receiving bad news in an accusatory manner.

Usually it's not as bad as I anticipate. And, I've learned the key is to wait before replying to an e-mail that upsets me. You know the HALT rule: Don't make important decisions when you're hungry, angry, lonely or tired. (I think I first heard that about going shopping...but it's applicable to a lot.) I've added an Olde English spelling to the acronym so that it's HALTE--hungry, angry, lonely, tired or when you've received a disappointing e-mail.

I think once my paperwork is filed, my aversion will disappear. I think I'll look forward to opening e-mails that have the address that causes me to tense up right now. Someone tell me I'm right...

Just wondering if anyone else has this aversion to their computer. Anyone else having a love-hate relationship with technology these days?

01 January 2007

new year's wishes

**Edited to add Valentina's wish

I received some lovely New Year's wishes this year that I wanted to pass on to all of you.

May your new year be peaceful, beautiful and bright; filled with new hope and dreams!

May the time ahead be filled with peace, harmony, sparkly snowflakes and miracles!

And, three greetings that I want to pass on to other pap's:

I wish you quick, productive & successful bureaucratic interactions.

I wish you a celebration with your daughter next year.

From Valentina, who took me to the children's home, "I wish for you all good things in the new year. I wish for you to be a mother. Soon!...Yes, in the spring when all things are new and starting."

Wishing you all joy in 2007! (That is a wish for all joy, not wishing y'all joy.)