31 December 2007

quick quotes

New Year's is a harmless annual institution,
of no particular use to anybody
save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks,
and friendly calls,
and humbug resolutions.

~Mark Twain

The only way to spend New Year's Eve
is either quietly with friends or in a brothel.
Otherwise when the evening ends and people pair off,
someone is bound to be left in tears.
~W.H. Auden

New Year's Resolution:
To tolerate fools more gladly
provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.
~James Agate



29 December 2007

sharing an oddment

During my recent sick-in-bed-for-nine-days I was looking for some light reading. I decided to read the Harry Potter series in order. That made me think I should do the same with the films. I found out there are five of them. (I thought there were four.) I drove ALL over the city and checked out all sorts of places that sell dvd's.

Prisoner of Azkaban is not available in English. Anywhere. All the others are, but not that one. Strange, huh? It makes me wonder why. In the kateish universe everything has a reason--no matter how convoluted or obscure.

(I got the other four and ordered PoA from am@zon.co.uk. It should be here soon.)

Just found that a little odd and had to share...

28 December 2007

ikea is ok-ea

Warning: this post meanders quite a bit

We were laughing as we were driving yesterday about the fact that on many horrible roads in Russia there have been signs put up a warning drivers about disastrously pot-holed roads instead of fixing the road. The warning above functions in the same way. ;>

I admit that I'm not a fan of their furniture or their store layout. Before yesterday I would have considered it a place to buy vanilla candles and temporary solutions. But now I have a soft spot for that retail giant.

The orphanage director from the orphanage I went to yesterday has gotten IKEA to sponsor her facility. They repaired the building (It's a large, U-shaped building. One wing is completely closed. Another had fallen into serious disrepair--broken windows, leaks, etc.). They rebuilt shower rooms. And, they furnished the children's rooms.

We handed out gifts the students at my school collected to some of the school-aged children.

And afterwards, we went upstairs to see one of V's special friends, L. V has known L since she was three. At that age, L took V's hand and led her throughout the orphanage showing her things and asking questions.

L is eleven now. She is warm and sparkly and open. She wanted so badly to talk to me! She exhausted her English (with help from her roommate, O) and considerately slowed down and simplified her Russian for me. Still, I found it difficult to converse. That is FRUSTRATING! I just wanted to chat. Every time I meet one of these amazing children one-on-one I think I need to raise my age range! Remember when I decided seven was still little after meeting Katya? Today eleven feels little, too.

L met us in her study. She and one other girl have a room furnished with two desks (chairs, lamps, etc.) and a wardrobe for their things. They had personal items on their desks and in the wardrobe. This was such a welcome surprise! I hadn't seen any other orphanages with this personal space allocated to children. And, it was quite a difference from the usual all-communal property.

Space might be one of the things this orphanage has going for it. It's a big building! But, I think that the director's vision for what the children need is just as important. Otherwise, this space could be used as offices, storage or simply left unused. The fact that these children are given this space as their own affected me tremendously. This director is leaving the orphanage. Valentina summed it up well when she said she is sad to see such a wonderful woman leaving the children, but glad that she is moving up in the ranks of government. She is going to be a supervisor of many orphanages now (I think). Valentina thinks her talent and intelligence will take her far--and hopes that having such a caring woman in a position of influence will help all of Russia's children.

We also talked quite a bit with L's brother, his friend, and L's roommate O. O was not happy with her Christmas presents. She didn't like the wooden dollhouse furniture that you assemble. She was upset that she didn't have a doll the right size. The dolls she did have she declared either too tall or too fat. She wanted the gifts L had. L offered to share, but O was determined to be unhappy. She didn't want her picture taken. She didn't want us to find her a doll. She just wanted to be sad.

She forgot to be sad when L wanted to talk to me. O is more confident of her English than Lena and liked being able to help her. She didn't want to speak to me herself, but she liked being able to help L say, "I am eleven." I asked where they learned English. We were told (V translated) that their dancing teacher wanted more money so he had begun teaching them English as well. When we left, O was fine. V, who was very concerned, told the deputy director that O was upset with her gifts. The deputy director said that this was usual for O. I'm on a secret mission to find a doll the right size...and something fun for L, who generously offered to share what she'd been given.

V is always an interesting source of opinions on the state of things in Russia. She thinks that Medvedev will be the next president of Russia. The statement that made the biggest impact on her was his claim that in two years there will be no orphanages in Russia. She thinks this is laughable. She is very concerned about a law limiting abortions that goes into effect next year. She foresees a dramatic rise in the number of children in Russian orphanages.

V also has her eye out for d2b. I confided to her that I was concerned that neither my current agency nor the other possible agency has experience and contacts in the region where I'll need to be. She often works there and is going to talk to some directors she knows who have placed children internationally. Maybe we can work this backwards and get d2b home!

27 December 2007


1. My agency has accreditation!

2. I am still trying to speak to an alternate agency. I'll call after New Year's and fill you in asap.

3. I got to deliver orphanage presents collected by our school today. Post to follow...

24 December 2007

good tidings


Wishing you a merry Christmas
filled with wonder and joy,
and love

and sticky, candy cane kisses.

23 December 2007

not "when" yet

Lauren did indeed work her string-pulling magic. The new agency has told her that they would be willing to represent me. (WOW!) However, I'm still waiting to have an e-mail answered by the agency. (I picked a great time to be switching--what with the holidays and my current agency's reaccreditation. SARC!) I want to speak to the director directly before making any decisions. If they are willing and able to register me in Leningrad Oblast then we'll switch. (gulp) If they reccommend another region, I'll need to weigh things a bit. It seems like a wasted opportunity to be in Russia, able to visit d2b regularly between "trips", and not take advantage of all the transition-smoothing that would allow. That being said, I am willing to go wherever it is that d2b is waiting. I've really wanted to take the Trans-Siberean Railway to Vladivostock for years now... ;>

I know that I am too much of a people-pleaser. Not only do I want my current agency to like me, I feel like I'M letting THEM down by considering a switch. I believe that they did nothing out of malice. However, their cautiousness and unpleasant demeanor has cost me time, social workers and irreparable damage.

I try not to dwell on what's been invested so far. But, you've been asking, so who am I to disappoint? I quit my perfect job 3 1/2 years ago to start saving and building respectability. I announced my plans and officially "started" about 22 months ago. I've spent $7000 with my current agency. My first hs (which never saw the light of Russia) cost $1800. My second hs, so far, has cost $2200. It will cost another $1000 to complete. So, I guess that's a total of 3 1/2 years and about $12,000 invested so far.

I know there's a reason for all of this. And, I know I probably don't get to know what that reason is. I just get to trust and move forward. I feel called to pursue Russian adoption. So I'll keep pouring out the time and money until God says, "When".

When my good friend, Kerry, was considering how much time had been invested so far, she told me that my daughter was going to be AMAZING to have kept me waiting so long. I can't wait to see that amazingness for myself!

22 December 2007

internet is back!

I'm completely snowed under with getting caught up on a month (two weeks SICK and two weeks without internet) of internet-related tasks. I will do it...just be patient with me.

Be back soon. I've missed you guys!

14 December 2007

before the bell

We don't actually have a bell. But if I'd put "before the kids come" it would have raised hopes.

No internet at home. Don't know when I'll have it.

SW2 submitted updates with all changes to agency. Agency wrote back an impolite list of further changes.

SW2 has HAD it with agency and will either submit as is or will charge me for an entirely new hs. This is MUCH more expensive than an update...which isn't cheap. She says she's never dealt with such a difficult agency and wishes she had never taken on my update. She says that SW1 has communicated that she feels the same way.

The amazing Lauren (Cupcake's Mommy) is busy behind the scenes trying to work her magic and pull some strings. If that ex-pat string can be pulled, changing agencies, even as I hear that accreditation is expected next week (deja vu), may be the best thousands of dollars I've ever wasted.

Please, keep this situation in your prayers.

07 December 2007

bang, bang

  • I am feeling better. I'm not well, but I'm on the way. More bedrest for me this weekend!
  • Internet is being turned off sometime soon (that's as much as we know) so that we can change providers. No telling when or for how long I'll be internetless. Nobody panic.
  • HS seems to be ready! SW2 e-mailed asking for info (which I gave 2.5 when she visited...) and then it's FINISHED. Well, it still needs notarizing and apostilling and translating. But, accreditation can come any time now.
  • I have an exhausting couple of weeks coming up. Today was conference day. It was nice that I didn't have to plan for a sub. But, now I have to make up those conferences before and after school for the next two weeks. I'm not sure an extended day is a good idea for me right now. And, we have the school winter concert on Wednesday.

(Did you know that the title of this post meant you were getting bullets instead of a real post?)

05 December 2007

please excuse kate

from life this week. This includes, blogging (both writing and reading), e-mails, telephone calls and anything that takes place out of her bed. Her doctor has Rx'd antibiotics and bedrest (saying, "And I mean in the bed!") for five days to kick a respiratory infection.

No fun. It's my first antibiotics in eight years! But, I can certainly feel the need for both the suprax and the total rest. I'm getting better, but it will be a while before I'm well. No worries, though!

(Oh, and I still haven't had a reply re: my homestudy. Do you all realize this has been going on since JUNE? That's a long time when you look back. When it was happening, it was all little delays of sw vacations and more vacations. But, they sure added up to one l-o-n-g homestudy!)

Be back next week...breathing easier.

04 December 2007


What's this new blogger thing? Why do I want the option of being me or anonyomous or nicknamed?

I guess I could be Toasty Christmas...

Seriously, though. What gives?

02 December 2007

all that jazz

Musical theatre is a decidedly American form of entertainment. Modern musical theatre using not only the spoken word, but also music and dance to tell a story. When the emotion is too big to be contained in words alone, the character sings and dances. Muscial theatre started in the US and no one does it better. The Brits try, and some of their efforts are stellar (Les Miz, Martin Guerre, etc.). Most, imho, however, fall flat; lacking that spark that makes musical theatre magical. I've seen some musical theatre in Russia. Russians just seem to be mystified by this genre. It doesn't quite work here.

Friday night I went to see Чикаго, as it said on my ticket. It was a production of Chicago. This is a show I love. I've seen it on Broadway, on tour and in the cinema. While it was lots of fun to go, this particular production lacked razzle dazzle.

It was the best musical I've seen here. But, it was on par with a good amateur production. The choreography was lackluster. My grades 4-6 dance class do a better job (and their choreography, if I do say so myself is more interesting, more clever and more Fosse-esque) with the opening number than this cast did. The entire production looked like it was trying to be the film. Film and theatre are DIFFERENT. One should not try to be the other. But, in this case, scenes from the film had been added to the play. The costumes were very reminiscent of the film. Velma looked remarkably like Catherine Zeta Jones. She was good. Roxie, bizarrely, looked like Little Orphan Annie--curly orange wig and ill-fitting dress. Although she was a Russian Actor of the People, she was not very good. She was cartoonish and melodramatic. She has little truth to her character instead posing and shouting. Amos was likable. Billy was horrible. And the chorus, well, left a lot to be desired.

I don't like ballet very much. To me, ballet, especially here, is all about physical prowess and lacks passion. The story gets lost in technicality. The dancer focuses on precisely positioning his or her body in demanding positions. And, to me, this is boring. These dancers had certainly been trained in the Russian ballet. They were flexible and able to kick...but they didn't use dance to tell the story. Bob Fosse, I'm certain, would not've been unimpressed.

But, even a poorly executed musical is better than no musical at all!

The most entertaining part came from our interactions with the other theatre goers. We were astonished to find that Kat (the ticket purchaser for this girls' night out) had gotten us seats in the front row of the balcony (my favorite spot) for only $14! The seats were plush, we were in the center of the theatre and life was good.

It was actually too good to be true. It turned out we were actually seated in some makeshift seats behind the seats in the balcony. It looked like an area that normally was used for storage. We couldn't see a thing!

We moved our chairs forward and I turned mine around backwards and was kneeling on it. The usher, who looked very stern, came and told me that after the lights went down we could go and sit in empty seats.

The lights went down and we leapt. Unfortunately, only Liv and I got to move down. (Though, as it turns out, Kat ended up with a more comfortable seat with less irritating neighbors.) The woman sitting next to me, who also moved down when the lights dimmed, was unpleasant-- crowding me in my seat and worrying that my boot might touch her. It was bench seating. Although the seats were generous, she decided to sit right on the edge of her seat next to me for the second act--and to be disapproving.

I was glad this was a show I knew backwards and forwards. I merely sang along in English in my head (well, mostly in my head...) and watched the dancing. I did laugh out loud when the line "My sister in now unfortunately deceased" was translated as "But now my sister nyet." No one else laughed but I was tickled.

01 December 2007

light makes right?

Edited again to add: I've just heard what I've never heard broadcasted here before. There is a big, blue truck driving around broadcasting happy music!! Bring on the life-is-good-so-why-change-things propoganda machine! Putin described the voting today as "festive". Besides the lights and music, MANY incentives are being given to lure voters to the polls--mobile phones, tickets to concerts and events, housing contracts to villages with the highest percentage of "mature" voters, etc. Sounds festive to me.

The votes will be counted by next Saturday, according to Russia Today.

eta: link is fixed

Interestingly, (okay, I know I say that a lot, but I find lots of things interesting...) the holiday decorations went up much earlier this year than they did last year. Last year, if you remember, lights weren't up until after 5 December. This year, light were up before Thanksgiving. More lights and more trees are around the city. The Snovim Godim signs aren't up yet, but the other lights are up and, as of Friday, were lit.

My theory? I think it's all about the elections. I think having the holiday lights up makes people feel happy, warm, contented...like life is good. And, if life is good, why should people vote to change it? My Russian friends were amazed at my insightfulness when I posed this theory. It's nice to be seen as wise and not cynical when expressing these theories! While my Russian friends know all about the coercion and manipulation that occurs under the soviet system, they're still learning about the manipulation that occurs during this "free election".

Elections are tomorrow...